Fishermen, environmentalists weigh potential impacts of offshore drilling

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As Brunswick County commissioners discuss offshore drilling at their meeting Monday night, at least one group you may not expect is not opposed to bringing it to North Carolina.

The North Carolina Fisheries Association represents the state’s commercial fishermen. In response to Governor Roy Cooper fighting to stop drilling off our coast, the group recently decided to keep their options open about offshore energy exploration.

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“There’s been some comments made by the governor, how detrimental it would be to the commercial fishermen and everything, but we burn a lot of diesel and gas, so we’re not closed to the idea of looking at it,” said Doug Todd, the NCFA’s board director of District Seven, which includes Onslow, Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick Counties.

Todd understands the opposition’s opinion, but still wants the drilling explored.

“Always a chance of a spill or something occurring and I know they’re talking about fracturing, that type of situation, so I can see their point of view too,” Todd said. “We’re just taking the position, we’re leaving the door open.”

Brunswick Environmental Action Team’s Pete Key says offshore drilling is not worth the risk.

“Why come here to drill? There’s no reason to risk what we have, which is our tourism industry and our recreational fishing industry and our commercial fishing industry. This is a gold mine for us,” Key said.

Key worries how offshore drilling would affect not only his future but the future of his family. He said that 14 of 17 Brunswick County municipalities are against offshore drilling so he hopes that the commissioners listen to the public.

The Brunswick County Commission voted 4-1 to take the offshore drilling issue off the agenda of Monday night’s meeting.