MOREHEAD CITY – February brought a lot of attention to the prospect of exploring possibilities for oil and gas extraction off the North Carolina coast after the Trump Administration announced they’d be opening up offshore leases up and down both coasts where even seismic testing was previously banned. Unfortunately, a lot of that attention was of the negative variety. Gov. Roy Cooper traveled to Atlantic Beach for a photo op and event to oppose developing these resources while parroting the typical, and misleading, talking points of the environmental Left.
One of the risks Cooper cited was the purported danger exploration and extraction posed to the commercial fishing industry. Well, it seems that Cooper failed to solicit the opinion of the N.C. Fisheries Association on the issue.
“Consistent with past positions on offshore drilling, the North Carolina Fisheries Association once again agreed they have no opposition to moving forward with exploration for oil and gas offshore of North Carolina. At their regular monthly meeting in February 2018, the Board had no opposition to “keeping the options open” regarding the drilling issue.
“We believe it would be hypocritical of us to oppose any efforts to at least find what’s out there, whether it be oil or natural gas or both”, said NCFA’s Chairman, Brent Fulcher. “We use thousands upon thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline in our efforts to bring seafood to the American consumer.””
Glenn Skinner, the organization’s Executive Director, said eastern North Carolina needs jobs, and while tourism, commercial and recreational fishing are important, the possibility of an oil spill in the distant future pales in comparison to the immediate harm to commercial fishing by the actions of the Marine Fisheries Commission, made even worse by Governor Cooper’s appointments.
Indeed, according to the association, Cooper’s late January appointments to the Marine Fisheries Commission currently pose more of a risk to the health and prosperity of commercial fishing families and businesses than the alarmist scenarios Cooper promotes.
Jerry Schill, NCFA’s Director of Government Relations explained as much in a press release last month.
“Just a few days after that press conference, the Governor made some appointments to the Marine Fisheries Commission that only add to the tremendous imbalance on the regulatory body that oversees fishing regulations. While it’s possible that our industry COULD face some real challenges if a drilling disaster should occur many years from now, it’s a fact that Governor Cooper’s recent Commission appointments are devastating commercial fishing families NOW, as per the recent MFC meeting two weeks ago.”
While stressing that their official position is not one of forging ahead without considering possible side effects of opening up the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration, the organization’s chairman, Brent Fulcher, did voice strong support for finding out what resources are available and capitalizing on those opportunities that would bring jobs and prosperity to the coast of the Old North State.
“From our perspective, this is all about eastern North Carolina jobs and fuel. It’s our belief that the possibility of windmills in the ocean pose a greater threat to our industry than oil exploration. It would be irresponsible for us to shut the door on the possibility of fossil fuel exploration while we need it for our industry and economic growth until there is a viable alternative. We must use caution and explore sustainably, but we must proceed.”
So, the commercial fishing industry is not scared of checking out what the future may hold relating to oil and gas exploration. Still, Cooper and his environmentalist whackos will use them as tools to drum up compassion for their weak argument for banning resource development anyhow.