In Meeting with Secretary Zinke, Gov. Cooper Underscores North Carolina’s Opposition to Offshore Drilling Joined by elected officials and stakeholders from coastal NC, Cooper emphasizes threat to coastal economies and tourism

RALEIGH

In a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today on offshore drilling and seismic testing, Governor Cooper underscored North Carolina’s opposition to both. Cooper was joined by elected officials and stakeholders from coastal North Carolina who stressed the threats both offshore drilling and seismic testing pose to North Carolina’s coastal economies and tourism industry.

In the meeting, Gov. Cooper and the bipartisan group of local elected officials and stakeholders stressed that offshore drilling would put North Carolina’s $3 billion coastal economy, 22 barrier islands, and millions of acres of estuaries at risk. Sec. Zinke was receptive to the concerns presented by the Governor and stakeholders. Sec. Zinke also agreed to consider the Governor’s request to extend the public comment period and add additional public hearings in coastal communities.

“I appreciate Secretary Zinke taking the time to come to North Carolina to hear our concerns about offshore drilling off of North Carolina’s coast, but I was clear that today’s meeting cannot take the place of public hearings and a visit in our coastal communities,” said Gov. Cooper. “We’ve listened to the experts, and opening up our coast would put our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities at risk. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Not Off Our Coast.”

In the meeting, Governor Cooper was joined by:

  • Josh Stein, N.C. Attorney General
  • Michael Regan, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
  • Bob Woodard, Chair of the Dare County Commission
  • Susie Walters, Mayor Pro Tem of Nags Head
  • Renee Cahoon, Chair of the NC Coastal Resources Commission
  • Trace Cooper, Mayor of Atlantic Beach
  • Rob Zapple, New Hanover County Commissioner
  • Dr. Stan Riggs, Marine Geologist at East Carolina University
  • Tom Kies, President of Carteret County Chamber of Commerce
  • Dave Timpy, Fisherman and former member of the Army Corps of Engineers

Gov. Cooper has called on the Trump Administration to grant North Carolina an exemption from offshore drilling and has encouraged North Carolinians to share their feedback 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.

Earlier this week, Cooper wrote to Zinke to request a 60-day extension of the public comment period. He also urged the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold additional public hearings on the North Carolina coast in Kill Devil Hills, Morehead City, and Wilmington. Currently, the only public feedback session is set to take place in Raleigh as an “open house.”

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.

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