Statement: Trump’s offshore drilling announcement ignores wishes of North Carolinians and leaves our coast at risk

Media Statements

Media Contacts
Drew Ball

Environment North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. — This past Tuesday in a major reversal, President Trump announced he is extending the moratorium, which former-President Obama used to protect parts of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from drilling and which the Trump Administration has sought to overturn, to protect the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but not North Carolina. This comes after the Trump administration’s 2018 announcement that they were releasing their five year offshore drilling plan. That plan included opening over 90% of U.S. coastal waters, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina’s coastlines to drilling. In June of this year, it was reported that Trump’s Interior Department was preparing to allow drilling off of Florida’s coast, but only after the November election to avoid political blowback.

In response Director of Environment North Carolina, Drew Ball stated:

Environment North Carolina and our members across the state have been fighting to protect our coast from the threats of offshore drilling for years. We know that we shouldn’t risk our pristine beaches and diverse ocean wildlife so that fossil fuel companies can profit from drilling our coastline. That’s why nearly every town and county along North Carolina’s coast has passed some form of resolution against offshore drilling and seismic testing. In fact, more than 29 mayors, 200 community organizations and local businesses, a bipartisan group of congressional representatives, Governor Roy Cooper and thousands of concerned citizens have expressed their opposition to these plans.

Drilling is inherently risky and there is no way to guarantee against spills. Between 2001 and 2015, there were more than 700 offshore petroleum spills that discharged at least 4.93 million barrels off U.S. coasts. One of the primary causes was hurricanes – which scientists say are becoming stronger. Reports also show that the damages caused by offshore drilling are not limited to ocean waters, but also carry impacts onshore. Oceans do not respect political boundaries. The BP Oil Spill spread across thousands of miles of coastline, affecting five coastal states. 

Citizens and elected leaders along the entire Atlantic Coast have clearly stated their opposition to offshore drilling, not just our neighboring states to the south. 

Here in North Carolina, Governor Cooper has been vocal in his opposition to drilling by clearly stating “not off our coast”. Our U.S. Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, as well as our coastal Congressional members David Rouzer and Greg Murphy, have been silent on the issue in recent years and some have spoken in favor of drilling our coast. We know that state leadership matters but the actions of our federal elected officials have left our coast vulnerable. We call on all North Carolinians to reach out to our elected officials and tell them to take action now to protect North Carolina’s coasts.