While half a million people marched in New York and across the nation for climate action this fall and the U.S. launched a new air war in the oil-rich Middle East, President Obama moved forward on one of his least noted but potentially highest impact energy decisions.
Beginning this past summer the Department of Interior has been quietly accepting applications from oil companies to start seismic testing for oil and gas deposits off the eastern seaboard between Delaware and Florida as well as in new areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean. This decision will open the way for five-year lease sales scheduled to begin in 2017. Like the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, new offshore oil drilling could threaten increased pollution, continued fossil fuel dependence and climate disaster. Environmentalists are also concerned about death and impairment to whales, dolphins and other marine wildlife from the high-volume sonic cannons used in the surveys. The government itself estimates the testing could impact 138,000 marine mammals.