Dozens weigh in on offshore drilling

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — State environmental officials are looking for public input about the potential impact of oil and gas exploration and development off our coast.

President Trump signed an executive order in April that could expand drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

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“I have friends on all sides of that issue,” Congressman David Rouzer said.

Offshore drilling is a hot topic on our coast. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing to gather feedback and to see what people think about the proposed oil and gas leasing program, along with seismic surveying proposed by the Trump Administration. Many say they worry drilling could hurt marine life.

“I’m a charter boat captain and I depend a lot on the habitat off shore, one oil spill would destroy all that habitat,” Captain Dave Timpy said. “The damages would be tremendous.”



More than 100 came out to the New Hanover County Government Complex, many said they oppose offshore drilling, but US Congressman David Rouzer, who met with local leaders in Wilmington earlier Monday disagrees.

“I think it’s important for job creation, particularly if you go to our inner counties like Bladen County, Columbus County, that are in such dire straights,” Rouzer said. “I think energy production could be a big boost in many ways, particularly for our beaches. As far as renourishment efforts and dredging of our inlets and our waterways, if structured the right way.”

Governor Roy Cooper has stated he is opposed to offshore drilling.

“So I think a very strong no from Governor Cooper, we’re hoping carries a lot of weight, as well as governors up and down the coast, who will say that the people of their states do not want this off the coast and don’t need this,” Andy McGlinn with the Cape Fear Sierra Club said.

While some said we do not need this, others said it will bring more opportunities to the area.

“We believe that North Carolina has a tremendous opportunity from an economic perspective, from a national security perspective and even from an environmental perspective, to pursue clean burning natural gas off our coast, and do so in a way that creates jobs and stimulates economic development here in North Carolina,” Executive Director of the North Carolina Petroleum Council David McGowan said.

North Carolina Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Bridget Munger said 162 people attended Monday night’s public hearing in Wilmington, with 37 of those people signing up to speak and voice their opinions.

If you would like to voice your opinions, you have until August 15, 2017 to submit comments by regular mail to:

Timothy Webster
217 West Jones St.
1601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1601

or by e-mail to timothy.webster@ncdenr.gov.

There will also be public hearings on August 9 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City and August 10 at the Dare County Government Complex in Manteo.