Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross opposing the issuance of five permits submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for companies planning to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic along the outer continental shelf.

Seismic survey operations are used to map underground oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor.

The permit requests come after President Donald Trump’s April executive order instructing the Department of the Interior to review and potentially revise the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (five-year plan) that prohibited offshore drilling along the Atlantic Coast through 2022, potentially opening Arctic waters and parts of the Atlantic Ocean to increased oil and gas drilling.

“Our opposition reflects the profound concern of our coastal communities to the use of seismic testing air guns and their unanimous opposition to it, as reflected in city council resolutions from the Delaware communities of Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island, Lewes, Milton, Rehoboth Beach and South Bethany,” the senators wrote. “Their opposition has been amplified by a letter sent by over 40 state and local elected officials from Delaware to the Department of the Interior in August 2016 in opposition to proposed seismic surveys. Elected officials from coastal communities throughout the Atlantic seaboard have added their voices to this chorus of concern.

“Their concerns are well-founded. While offshore oil and gas development could present economic benefit in selected areas along the coast, these areas are already the beneficiaries of greater economic benefits derived from and contingent on a healthy, vital and sustainable ocean environment off their shores. Clean coastal waters and the ocean ecosystems they support draw millions of coastal visitors and billions of dollars invested in coastal recreation and coastal communities. These communities do not take lightly the prospect of compromising those values, which, with care, will continue to support these communities.”

The full text of the letter can be found at