State approves consistency submissions for seismic surveying on offshore oil and gas resource development

Raleigh

RALEIGH – The N.C. Division of Coastal Management this week approved two consistency submissions from Spectrum Geo, Inc. and GX Technology for seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean related to the identification of oil and gas resources off the North Carolina coast.

After careful review of the proposals, the division found both proposed projects to be consistent with the relevant enforceable policies of North Carolina’s coastal management program, with the following conditions and recommendations:

· As a condition of concurrence for both projects, the division will require a pre-survey meeting with representatives of the state divisions of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management to review and discuss precise survey transects and timing in order to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any possible fisheries impacts or conflicts.

Recommendations:

· Where practical, relocate proposed survey transects to avoid South Atlantic Fishery Management Council-designated Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and important foraging, spawning and refuge areas.

· Conduct surveys at times that avoid potential use conflicts with offshore fishing tournaments, major recreational fishing areas, and seasonally-focused fishing.

· Follow the mitigation measures required by the Final Atlantic Geological and Geophysical Activities Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management established in 2014 for offshore oil and gas exploration. The federal government has stated that the mitigation measures are the strongest safeguards to reduce or eliminate impacts to marine life.

Spectrum Geo, Inc. and GX Technology propose to conduct separate Marine Geophysical Surveys via 2D seismic surveying off the North Carolina coast to gather geological and geophysical data that could provide information about the feasibility of future development of offshore oil and gas resources. A more thorough description of each of the projects, along with copies of the letters of concurrence sent to each company, is available on the division’s website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/cm/offshore-surveys .

The surveys would take place entirely in federal waters, outside North Carolina’s coastal zone. State law does not require coastal development permits for projects outside the state’s coastal zone, but the federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires federal applicants to coordinate with the state for any proposed activity that affects land use, water use or any natural resource within the zone.

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