A federal judge in South Carolina issued an injunction stopping the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s processing of applications for offshore oil and gas seismic permits on the US Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf during the federal government’s partial shutdown.

Gergel’s order concerned a US Department of Justice request for a stay in Wilson’s request to join a lawsuit that 16 coastal South Carolina communities and several environmental organizations filed to stop the oil and gas seismic tests, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston.

If approved, the permits that five offshore geophysical contractors are seeking would be the first surveys for oil and gas on the Mid-Atlantic OCS since the 1980s. Development of 3D seismic technology during that period has improved offshore discovery rates. Opponents say 3D seismic tests endanger whales and other marine life.

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