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(FloridaToday.com) - Opposition is growing against allowing airguns that shoot dynamite-like underwater blasts to survey for oil and gas deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit Oceana announced that 110 local elected officials and 155 conservation and animal welfare groups have joined their campaign against seismic airgun use along the East Coast.

Six coastal communities — including Cocoa Beach — have also passed resolutions opposing the airgun testing. Three of the communities are in North Carolina and two are in New Jersey.

On April 3, Cocoa Beach City Commission passed a resolution opposing the testing, fearing it could lead to deep-sea drilling and eventual oil spills.

"I would challenge the rest of the cities in the Brevard County area and the rest of Florida to look at our resolution," Commissioner Skip Williams said at the time.

The resolution passed 4-1. Mayor Dave Netterstrom dissented, citing the nation's dependence on foreign oil and need for more domestic sources of energy.

Oceana is pressing the issue this week because April 20 marks the fourth year since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout that killed 11 workers and spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

In February, federal regulators announced plans to allow seismic airguns to survey for oil and gas deep beneath the ocean floor, from Cape Canaveral to Delaware.

But conservation groups fear the tests — more intense than a jet engine — will kill or harm thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine life.

Between 1966 and 1988, the energy industry gathered two-dimensional surveys of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. But industry officials say new technology could provide much improved three-dimensional surveys of potential oil and gas deposit areas.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to allow seismic surveys from just south of Cape Canaveral to Delaware in federal waters, from three to 350 nautical miles out to sea, an area about double the size of California. But the geological surveys and impacts could cross into state waters closer to shore as well.

BOEM's study covers surveys proposed through 2020.

The public can submit comments about the bureau's study until May 7.

Contact Waymer at 321-242-3663 or jwaymer@floridatoday.com

Want to comment?

• The public has until May 7 to comment on the airgun testing. To do so, visit www.regulations.gov and search for "Geological and Geophysical Activities in Mid and South Atlantic" (Note: It is important to include the quotation marks in your search terms.) Click on the "Comment Now" button to the right of the document link. Enter your information and comment, then click "Submit."

• For information on the Final Programmatic EIS, you may contact Gary D. Goeke, chief, Environmental

Assessment Section, Office of Environment (GM 623E), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123–2394, or by email at ggeis@boem.gov, or by at (504) 736–3233.

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