BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — In a surprise move, Brunswick County commissioners tonight voted to reverse course and rescind a resolution adopted more than two years ago that supported offshore drilling.
Back in July 2015, commissioners approved a resolution supporting offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic. A month later they reconsidered the resolution, but a 2-2 vote, with Commissioner Frank Williams recusing himself from the vote, kept the resolution in place.
Last summer opponents of offshore energy exploration rallied in Brunswick County to encourage a reversal. Brunswick was one of two counties in the state that had expressed support for offshore drilling.
Commissioners were greeted by another protest before tonight’s meeting in Bolivia with one member of the board telling WWAY this afternoon that no action would be taken. In the end, though, the five Republican commissioners surprised even themselves by voting 3-2 to back off the 2015 resolution. Williams, Randy Thompson and Mike Forte voted in favor of rescinding it. Marty Cooke and Pat Sykes voted against.
The move comes two weeks after the Trump administration announced plans to expand oil and gas exploration along the Atlantic coast. Many coastal leaders have expressed concern with potential impacts on tourism and other industries. The federal government granted Florida an exemption from drilling. That led the governors of North Carolina and South Carolina to also declare their preference to be left out of the plan.