Offshore Seismic Surveys: Additional Guidance Needed to Help Ensure Timely Reviews, Statement of Jon Ludwigson, Acting Director, Natural Resources and Environment, Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives [open pdf - 478KB]
"Ships conduct seismic surveys by shooting soundwaves into the ocean floor to collect data, including on geology that might indicate oil and gas. Applicants wishing to conduct oil and gas surveys must get a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and, if the survey could harm marine mammals, they must obtain authorization from one or two federal wildlife agencies. Some applicants have questioned the speed of the permit process. We examined the permit process and time frames in different regions. In the report on which this testimony is based, we recommended that wildlife agencies clarify their processes to ensure timely reviews."
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/