Joined by local business leaders and elected officials, Gov. Roy Cooper once again called on the Trump Administration today to grant North Carolina an exemption from proposed seismic testing and offshore drilling and pledged potential legal action to protect North Carolina’s coastal communities.
Following the Trump Administration’s proposal to open the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to offshore drilling, bipartisan governors of coastal states spoke out in opposition. Days after the announcement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that after meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida would be exempted from the plan, citing the importance of tourism and the coastal economy to the state. Gov. Cooper previously submitted public comments opposing seismic testing and drilling off North Carolina’s coast and on January 20th, he requested an official exemption for North Carolina in a call with Secretary Zinke.
“By exempting Florida, the Trump administration has admitted that offshore drilling is a threat to coastal economies and tourism,” Gov. Cooper said. “Offshore drilling presents an unacceptable risk for North Carolina’s coastal tourism industry and economy – with little potential gain.”
An oil spill would be particularly damaging for North Carolina’s coastal communities, which generate billions of dollars from the tourism and commercial fishing industries. Visitor spending accounts for more than $3 billion in North Carolina’s coastal counties, supporting more than 30,000 jobs. Commercial fishing also generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the state’s economy.
“North Carolina has made its opposition to offshore drilling clear,” added Cooper, “Following the public comment period, if our state is not granted the same exemption that Florida received, we will take legal action to protect our coastal communities and prevent drilling off the North Carolina coast.”
The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ultimately cost more than $60 billion in cleanup and economic recovery costs – more than double North Carolina’s annual budget.
At today’s press conference, Gov. Cooper encouraged North Carolinians to share their feedback and opposition to offshore drilling with the Interior Department at (202) 208-3100. At least 30 coastal communities have passed resolutions opposing drilling, joining hundreds of businesses and a bipartisan group of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation
“Secretary Zinke agreed to continue to receive public comment from North Carolinians. I urge all of our families, business leaders, and local elected officials to contact the Interior Department and let them know the risk offshore drilling would pose to our coastal communities and state,” said Gov. Cooper.
The Cooper Administration is committed to protecting North Carolina from the threat of offshore drilling. Last month, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management asked four companies to submit additional information about proposed seismic testing for offshore oil and gas exploration because their original proposals did not consider the latest scientific studies on the harmful impacts to marine life.
In July, Gov. Cooper joined coastal business owners and community leaders to announce that he and Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, would submit comments in opposition to oil and gas leasing for offshore drilling along North Carolina’s coast.