N.J. move to block 30 days of ocean testing fails

A federal judge has rejected the Christie administration’s request for an injunction to block seismic testing off the New Jersey coastline.

The state argued that the federal government improperly denied its request to comment the plan in recent months, but U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan disagreed.

Environmentalists claim the powerful sound blasts every five seconds over 30 days would disrupt marine life and have a negative impact on New Jersey’s fishing and tourism industries.

A federal government lawyer argued Tuesday that it’s critical the testing be conducted now because the weather is favorable and endangered right whales are not in the area.

Researchers are using acoustic sensors to map sediment layers on the ocean floor 15 miles off the Barnegat Inlet. They say the data will help them predict sea level rise.

The study is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Rutgers University.

Opponents including U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone claim the information that’s gathered could be used by the oil and gas industry to push for drilling off the coast.

Offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast is prohibited until 2017. U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are among the lawmakers who are urging President Obama to extend the ban.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.