January 11, 2018
Cooper Asks Feds to Exempt N.C. From Offshore Drilling
THE OUTER BANKS SENTINEL
day after the news that the Trump Administration was removing the
waters off Florida from its new offshore drilling plan, North Carolina
Governor Roy Cooper asked for a similar waiver for his state.
“Offshore drilling holds the same risks for North Carolina as it does
for Florida and North Carolina deserves the same exemption,” Cooper
The new plan for developing the National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024 was announced on Jan. 4 by
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It proposes to make more than 90 percent
of the total OCS acreage available for exploration and development.
The plan also called for 47 potential lease sales. Nine are in
the Atlantic region, with three of them in the Mid- and South Atlantic.
This week’s decision to drop Florida from that list came after Rick
Scott, the Republican governor of the state, voiced his strong
opposition to drilling off Florida’s coast. Cooper is a Democrat who
defeated incumbent Republican Pat McCrory, a strong supporter of
offshore drilling, in November 2016.
Cooper said he had requested a meeting or phone call with Secretary
Zinke to explain the risks of seismic testing and drilling off of North
Carolina’s coast and to demand an exemption for North Carolina like
In a letter to 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.
“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.”
Generally speaking, Zinke’s new and ambitious plan for widespread
offshore drilling has generated considerable opposition in coastal
In an interview with the Sentinel, Randy Sturgill, a senior campaign
organizer for the environmental group Oceana, called the plan "insane"
and a "radical offshore free-for-all. One thing is for sure. They will
not get the Atlantic without one hell of a fight!"
Dare Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard said the board's
longstanding opposition to offshore drilling and seismic testing "has
not changed and we remain strongly opposed to this." Speaking at the
Jan. 8 board of commissioners meeting, he encouraged the other board
members to "look at this new plan. We as a board may need to take a
look at passing another resolution against it. I still take the
position that 'we take all the risk, but get none of the reward.”
Meeting with members of the media in Washington on Jan. 9, Jack Gerard,
the president of the American Petroleum Institute, lauded the Trump
Administration for its “courage” and “foresight” in producing the
expanded offshore drilling plan.
Asked to respond to reports of vocal opposition to that plan in coastal
communities, Gerard stressed that “it’s a first step in a long
process,” adding that “polls say Americans want their resources