WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)- The Obama administration announced the first step toward oil and natural gas exploration off the Atlantic coast.
“It’s definitely unfortunately the first big step forward towards allowing seismic air guns off the Atlantic Coast but it is by no means a final decision,” said Sara Young, a marine scientist with Oceana says decision by the Obama administration was one they expected.
The decision by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sets a precedential path forward for exploration of oil and natural gas reserves off of our coast.
“The economic impacts from offshore oil and natural gas exploration are significant for our state upwards of four billion dollars per year,” said David McGowan with the North Carolina Petroleum Council, “We need an all of the above energy strategy here in this country to meet our growing demand for energy at home here and also abroad.”
Opponents say North Carolina is suited for other types of energy that need no exploration.
“North Carolina specifically does have a lot to gain from offshore wind,” said Young, “a lot of states in the Atlantic are moving forward with great speed.”
They say exploring these reserves through seismic testing Is harmful to the environment and wildlife.
Which is why several local towns, including some in our area, have come out against it.
“So it definitely helps to have local governments and local communities, stepping up and saying they are not ok with having air guns off their coast,” said Young.
Proponents though say the testing and extraction is safe.
“It is safe, it has been done safely,” said McGowan, “in other areas of the country including in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Friday afternoon Gov. McCrory released a statement applauding the decision.