Dem Rep Uses an Air Horn to Prove a Point About Environmental Impact of Offshore Oil Work

“Mr. Chair, I’d ask for unanimous consent to sound an air horn in committee.”

That was the unusual request made by Freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) during a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife hearing on Thursday, all in the name of making a point about the impact of one controversial method of offshore oil work.

Cunningham’s line of questioning focused on seismic airgun blasting — a controversial method of searching for oil and gas under the seabed. Critics of the method have argued that it is disruptive to marine life, something even the federal government has conceded in allowing operators to use the equipment in the ocean.

After receiving unanimous consent from the committee — and granting everyone in attendance a moment to brace themselves — Cunningham sounded a portable air horn in the committee room.

“Was that disruptive, Mr. Oliver?” he asked of Chris Oliver, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s assistant administrator for fisheries.

Watch the video below:

After Oliver conceded that the noise was “irritating,” but not “particularly disruptive,” Cunningham pressed him further.

“How much louder do you think seismic airgun blasting sounds than this air horn you just heard?” the congressman questioned, urging Oliver to “take a guess” after he admitted he did not know.

After Oliver repeatedly declined to take a guess, Cunningham revealed the number:

“What if I were to tell you it’s 16,000 times louder than what you just heard here? Can you see how that would be impactful on marine species and mammals?”

Oliver admitted that he did understand Cunningham’s point, noting regulations on the proximity to wildlife at which seismic airgun blasting can be conducted.

Cunningham’s point seems to have also gotten the attention of his colleagues on the committee. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted that the South Carolina Democrat had used the air horn “right next to me.”

“I can confirm that it was LOUD,” he added. “Seismic airguns are thousands of times louder.”


  1. Air horns are loud, but momentary. Water conducts sound more efficiently than air. The wind turbines implicated in the beaching of whales and other cetaceans are infinitely more louder AND incessant with the wind. (except the ones Teddy “I left Kopeckne to drown in Chappaquidick” Kennedy opposed off his scenic family compound. NIMBY much drunken murderer Ted?)

  2. Junior Josh, are all your blue articles so bland, washed out and pointless? An air horn won’t make them relevant, but will allow for penetration into thick skulls where no life, marine or otherwise, exists.

  3. This thespian learned his craft at the Kavanaugh hearings.

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