The U.S. Interior Department is still processing permit applications for companies to conduct seismic testing in the Atlantic — a precursor to drilling — despite shelving its plan to vastly expand offshore drilling. Atlantic coastal state lawmakers, businesses and conservation groups are adamant that Interior should not allow seismic testing — a process that often uses powerful air guns to map resources below the ocean floor — arguing the surveys hurt marine life, such as the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is responsible for managing energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf, continues to review the applications of a half-dozen seismic testing companies awaiting permits to test for oil and gas drilling potential on the Atlantic Ocean floor.
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