Following Interior Dept. deal with Florida, Governor Cooper requests meeting with Trump Administration to explain threat to NC’s coastal economy
RALEIGH: Following an announcement late yesterday that the Trump Administration will exempt Florida from its plan to open Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters to offshore drilling, Governor Cooper today urged Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to grant an exemption for North Carolina. Gov. Cooper requested a meeting with the Secretary to explain the critical threat drilling and seismic testing pose to North Carolina’s coastal communities, economy and environment. The state is also exploring legal options to prevent offshore drilling.
“The Trump Administration, through their decision on Florida, has admitted that offshore drilling is a threat to coastal economies and tourism,” Gov. Cooper said. “Offshore drilling holds the same risks for North Carolina as it does for Florida and North Carolina deserves the same exemption. As I said last summer, not off our coast.”
Following the Trump Administration’s decision to open the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts to offshore drilling, bipartisan governors of coastal states have spoken out in opposition. On Tuesday night, Secretary Zinke tweeted that after meeting with Governor Rick Scott, Florida would be exempted from the plan.
Gov. Cooper requested a meeting or call with Secretary Zinke to explain the risks of seismic testing and drilling off of North Carolina’s coast and demand an exemption for North Carolina like Florida received. In a letter to Secretary Zinke, Gov. Cooper reiterated his opposition to offshore drilling off of North Carolina’s coast and emphasized the threat to the state’s coastal economy.
“Just as you acknowledge in removing Florida, offshore drilling threatens tourism, which is a vital economic driver. The same holds true for North Carolina.”
“Coastal tourism generates $3 billion annually in North Carolina and supports more than 30,000 jobs in the eastern part of the state. Commercial fishing brings in another $95 million every year. In addition, North Carolina has over 300 miles of coastline, 2.3 million acres of estuarine waters, and over 10,000 miles of estuarine shoreline. All of these contribute to a robust national economy.”
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 resource development 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.
At least 30 coastal communities have passed resolutions opposing drilling, joining hundreds of businesses and a bipartisan group of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation.