The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced that it will restart evaluating applications of six companies to carry out geological and geophysical (G&G) activities in the Atlantic Ocean.
DOI has taken the decision based on the Secretarial Order 3350, which implements US President Trump’s America-First offshore energy strategy.
The last G&G seismic data for the mid and south Atlantic outer continental shelf (OSC) have been collected more than 30 years back when the technology was not much developed.
Seismic surveys will be used to spot offshore wind structures, locate potential seafloor hazards, sand and gravel resources for beach replenishment activities, as well as potential archaeological resources.
The latest decision reverses a decision by the previous administration that ordered the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to deny the permit applications.
According to DOI, the earlier decision undervalued the benefits of securing updated G&G information and neglected the conclusions of BOEM’s Atlantic G&G Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision, which demonstrated that no significant impacts are expected to occur because of seismic surveys.
The six firms registered appeals with the IBLA to have their applications reinstated, after refusing the permit applications.
BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank requested the IBLA to remand the six Atlantic G&G Permit Application denials under appeal.
DOI secretary Ryan Zinke said: “Seismic surveying helps a variety of federal and state partners better understand our nation’s offshore areas, including locating offshore hazards, siting of wind turbines, as well as offshore energy development.
“Allowing this scientific pursuit enables us to safely identify and evaluate resources that belong to the American people.”