“Not Off Our Coast”: NC Opposition to Seismic Testing and Offshore Drilling

Atlantic Ocean and NC Beach. Photo: Frank Whatley.
Atlantic Ocean and NC Beach. Photo: Frank Whatley.

Governor Cooper announced today that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will submit formal comments opposing offshore seismic testing for oil drilling on North Carolina’s coast.

The Governor joined coastal business owners and community leaders at the Fort Macon Visitor Center in Carteret County to announce the decision.

Earlier this year, President Trump rescinded the moratorium on seismic testing permits — the first step toward offshore drilling. Friday marks the deadline for public comments on the testing.

At least 30 coastal communities have passed resolutions opposing drilling, joining hundreds of businesses and a bipartisan group of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation.

Said Governor Roy Cooper:

“It’s clear that opening North Carolina’s coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities—and for little potential gain. As Governor, I’m here to speak out and take action against it. I can sum it up in four words: not off our coast.”

A potential oil spill could decimate North Carolina’s coastal tourism and commercial fishing industries, both major economic drivers for the region. Coastal tourism in North Carolina generates more than $3 billion annually, supporting more than 30,000 jobs.

In addition to the economic risks, Cooper cited improving renewable technologies and the lower cost of natural gas. Cooper highlighted concerns that the political climate in Washington focusing on deregulation could jeopardize communities near drilling. He said:

“In Washington, DC, deregulation is a top priority. That means fewer safeguards for the environment and ultimately offshore drilling. It’s simply not worth it.”

For key facts on North Carolina’s coastal economy and the dangers of offshore drilling, click here (PDF).

Ed. Note: Video of the NC Governor and NC coastal Mayors speaking was broadcast from Atlantic Beach NC on July 20, 2017, and may be viewable on Facebook here.


The following is a statement issued by the Southern Environmental Law Center regarding the Governor annoouncment that he is joining more than 125 coastal communities in opposing offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast. Said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center:

“Today Governor Cooper listened to all of North Carolina’s coastal communities who’ve been calling for the protection of our coast. As Governor Cooper underscored, there’s just too much at risk for North Carolina with offshore drilling — beautiful white sand beaches that draw tourists from around the world, rich estuaries and fishing industry, and a whole Southern and coastal way of life. Now it’s time for President Trump to do the same.  Presidents have long recognized that states’ interests matter in whether coasts should be opened to risky offshore drilling.  North Carolina has spoken.  It’s time for Washington to listen.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. See www.SouthernEnvironment.org.

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