North Carolina sues over federal decision on seismic testing

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Offshore drilling platforms (Photo: Photo: BSEE)

NORTH CAROLINA (WWAY/AP) — On Wednesday, Attorney General Josh Stein filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the Trump Administration for allowing seismic exploration for oil and gas off the North Carolina coast.

“Protecting our state’s beautiful natural resources – and the critical economic benefits they bring to our state – is one of the most important mandates of my job,” AG Stein said. “North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: We do not want drilling off our coast. I am going to court to fight on their behalf.”

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Seismic testing uses powerful airguns that blast sounds at the ocean floor repeatedly for months at a time. Marine experts say these sounds can harm marine and coastal resources – and could have significant impacts on the state’s fishing and tourism industries.

The lawsuit says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was wrong in overriding the state’s objections to the tests.

The AG said the federal government’s override of North Carolina’s objections to offshore drilling would pave the way for WesternGeco, one of five companies seeking to conduct seismic exploration, to move one step closer to receiving necessary permits.

“North Carolina objected to this proposal because the company’s activities would be inconsistent with North Carolina’s coastal management program, which is designed to guide uses of the state’s coastal resources,” Stein said. “North Carolina’s well-reasoned objection was made after the state conducted public hearings, received numerous comments, and solicited and received substantial additional information from scientific researchers and others.”

Many Republican state legislators support offshore exploration, citing jobs and energy independence.

Filings are available here and here.