Obama admin blocks seismic surveys in Atlantic Ocean

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — The Obama administration is denying permits for energy companies to conduct seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean to map potential drilling sites for oil and natural gas.

The Interior Department says it denied six pending applications in part because President Obama has blocked Atlantic drilling under a five-year offshore drilling plan finalized late last year.

Environmental groups and some East Coast lawmakers oppose the surveys, saying that loud sounds from seismic air guns could hurt marine life.

The advocacy group Oceana applauded the announcement, saying the Obama administration was “finishing the job in protecting the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling activities.”

Last week, Obama designated the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.

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