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Eight Maryland Lawmakers Urge Obama To Abandon Offshore Seismic Testing

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The majority of Maryland's Congressional delegation is urging President Obama to reconsider a proposal regarding a technique to look for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean, including off the state's shoreline. Who isn't behind the push is just as telling as who is.

Eight of Maryland's 10 Congressional members wrote the President, asking him to think twice about a plan that would use seismic air guns to search for oil and gas in the ocean. Both senators, including Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, who chairs the Senate's Environment and Public Work subcommittee on Water and Wildlife signed the letter, along with six House representatives.

In it, they said the cost of the proposed action to state residents and marine life off Maryland coasts is too great for "exploration that will keep us tethered to the energy sources of the past."

An excerpt from the letter explains the process being discussed:

Seismic air gun testing off the Atlantic coast will lead the way for risky deepwater drilling, the same practice that brought us the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico more than four years ago and continues to plague that region. Additionally, the type of seismic air gun testing used to search for oil and gas is incredibly harmful and could injure or kill thousands of marine mammals and fish, including endangered species. Seismic air guns fire dynamite-like blasts of compressed air every 10 - 12 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks and months at a time. These loud air gun blasts can be heard for many hundreds of miles in the ocean and, as a result, can drive whales to abandon their habitats, go silent, and cease foraging over vast areas. At shorter distances, it can cause permanent hearing loss, injury, and even death for whales, dolphins and fish.

The only two representatives not to sign the letter represent districts that contain nearly all of the Maryland's coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay: Democrat Steny Hoyer and Republican Andy Harris.

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