Kure Beach Mayor’s Support for Seismic Airgun Blasting Spurs Public Outcry - Oceana USA
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July 14, 2014

Kure Beach Mayor’s Support for Seismic Airgun Blasting Spurs Public Outcry

In January, Kure Beach, North Carolina Mayor Dean Lambeth voiced his support for the American Energy Forum’s push to approve seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. Within days, his actions caused an outpouring of opposition—more than 300 residents protested his position towards seismic airguns at the next Town Hall meeting.

Mayor Lambeth’s decision incidentally sparked a movement, rallying ocean advocates, animal lovers, and environmental organizers to unite against oil exploration and seismic airgun use along the East Coast. To date, 16 towns have passed resolutions opposing or expressing concern with the proposed seismic airgun blasting, and an additional 78 local elected officials, 163 conservation and animal welfare organizations, and groups like The Billfish Foundation and The International Game Fish Association have also joined the mounting opposition.

Last month, Mayor Lambeth caused even more of a stir when all but one of the members on Kure Beach’s Stormwater Committee resigned, spurred by a comment he made to one of the members. According to the Island Gazette, Mayor Lambeth told committee member Mo Linquist to “shut up and not mention seismic testing” or else he would fire Lingquist and dissolve the Committee. Since the widespread resignation, Mayor Lambeth has suggested eliminating the Stormwater Committee.

Oceana is actively campaigning to keep seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean in order to locate oil and gas deposits deep beneath the seafloor, the blasts are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine. According to the Department of the Interior’s own estimates, these dynamite-like blasts could injure and possibly kill about 138,000 marine mammals, while disrupting the necessary activities of millions more.

In response to Mayor Lambeth’s recent actions, Oceana’s Connor Whitley submitted a Letter to the Editor of the Island Gazette last week to highlight, once again, why seismic airgun use is the wrong decision for North Carolina. It can be viewed below and online here.

Dear Editor, 

I am writing in response to “Majority of Kure Beach Stormwater Committee Resigns.” I’m studying environmental policy and my father is from Highpoint NC, so I have spent a lot of time on the Carolina coast and am very passionate about protecting the state’s beaches.

When Mayor Lambeth came out in support of the American Petroleum Institute’s push to approve seismic airgun blasting, he became a catalyst for the movement against seismic airguns.  Since January, fifteen towns along the East Coast have passed resolutions opposing or expressing concern with proposed seismic blasting.

Commercial and recreational fishing supports more than 27,000 jobs in North Carolina, and ocean-based tourism and recreation brings in over $1 billion in GDP to the state. All of these jobs and revenue are put at risk by seismic airgun use and the offshore drilling that would follow. If Mayor Lambeth doesn’t believe me, he should Google “BP Oil Spill” or call a business owner on the Gulf Coast.

It is unfortunate that the members of the Stormwater Committee in Kure Beach felt that they needed to resign, but I hope they will keep up their work educating people about seismic airgun blasting. 

As the Mayor said, “they should focus on Kure Beach issues.” 

If seismic airguns are permitted off the East Coast and the president green lights offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Mayor Lambeth will realize that this most certainly IS a Kure Beach issue.

Connor Whitley