Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., announced Thursday that he has asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, to hold a public meeting in Dare County regarding the federal government’s proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.
His request to BOEM is on the heels of a similar request made Wednesday by Dare County Board of Commissioners.
As of now, there is only one public meeting on the proposed five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program scheduled in the entire state, to be held in Raleigh, roughly 150 miles from Dare County.
Jones wrote in a letter to BOEM that the oil and gas leasing program has “generated considerable interest in coastal areas across the country, including in my Eastern North Carolina district.”
He continued in his letter that he is pleased there is a meeting to be held in the state but the date and location “represent a hardship for citizens who live along the coast of North Carolina, including those in Dare County. For many of these folks, a drive to Raleigh on a weeknight is a 3 or 4 hour trip each way. As a result, I fear many will not be able to attend.”
Jones concluded, “It is vitally important for the federal government to receive the input of citizens who stand to be most impacted by this proposal. Therefore, I respectfully encourage you to grant the county’s request for a public meeting in Dare County.”
The Department of the Interior released Jan. 4 its proposed five-year draft plan to open up most U.S. outer continental-shelf waters, including off the North Carolina coast and some protected areas, to oil and gas exploration and drilling. As part of that announcement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said there would be a series of 23 public meetings on the draft plan, including the one in North Carolina set for 3-7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, 3415 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh.