The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has approved a plan to make it legal for five companies to conduct seismic testing off the Atlantic coast, in an area stretching from Delaware to Florida. The latest authorization permit seismic testing companies to map the ocean floor for offshore oil companies to begin exploratory testing, but do not include authorization for offshore oil drilling. The latest approval follows a January 2018 decision by the federal government, which opened up more than 90 percent of federal offshore areas to potential lease sales.
All the governors of states adjacent to the federal waters outlined oppose offshore drilling off their state waters. Individual states largely oppose offshore drilling, fearing that another Deepwater Horizon disaster could ruin their tourism economies, but because state waters end three miles off the coast and federal waters aren't subject to state rules, states have found themselves trying to negotiate with the federal government. Florida received an exemption from lease sales from the Interior Department (at least until 2022, when a federal moratorium on drilling is lifted), but New Jersey hasn't, and the state sued the Interior Department to determine why.
The companies that have been approved to conduct the seismic testing are Ion GeoVentures, Spectrum Geo Inc, TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, WesternGeco, and CGG.