New Jersey's only public  hearing to weigh in on   proposed seismic exploration for oil and gas reserves in the  coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean happens this Friday, April 27th at 1p.m.,  in room 301 of the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The U.S. Interior Department is considering allowing the seismic testing, not drilling, in the waters of ...the Atlantic Ocean from Florida north to Delaware.

Although  the plan technically doesn't include New Jersey's coastal waters, critics argue that the damage from such testing is far-reaching.  Cynthia A. Zipf of the Sandy Hook-based group Clean Ocean Action told the Courier Post, “Seismic exploration will blast regions of
the sensitive marine environment with pulses of sound so loud that they can impact vast areas of the ocean for thousands of square miles.”

Opponents of the testing, the first such seismic research  in this section of the ocean in over 25 years, say it is a gateway to offshore drilling and will disrupt tourism, the fishing industry and ocean life.  The administration's own estimates say such testing would kill or injure about 140,000 marine mammals.

How does seismic testing work?  High volume airguns on testing ships fire intense pulses of compressed air approximately every 10 seconds.  The shots are almost as loud as small explosives.  Organizations like the Surfrider Foundation find this unacceptable. "The noise from seismic surveys can damage or kill fish eggs and larvae and impair the hearing and health of fish, making them susceptible to predators and making it challenging for them to locate prey or mates or communicate with each other. These disturbances can disrupt important migratory patterns, forcing marine life away from suitable habitats meant for foraging and mating. In addition, seismic surveys have been implicated in whale beaching and stranding incidents.  Seismic testing is equivalent to a bomb detonating every few seconds for months on end!"

If you find this as alarming as I do, please plan on attending Friday's public hearing.  To request to speak at Friday's hearing, e-mail Gary Goeke, Bureau of ocean Energy Management at GGEIS@boem or call (504)736-3233 .  More information concerning the testing and  Friday's scheduled hearing are available at