RALEIGH – When the Trump administration announced it would be opening up offshore energy exploration opportunities around the country, environmentalists fear mongered about the purported dangers of fossil fuel extraction and Roy Cooper demanded ‘Not off our coast!’ while pleading for a North Carolina exemption in order to satisfy his Leftist base.
Recently Cooper met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to beg the Trump administration for carve the Old North State out of the offshore oil and gas exploration game based on over-hyped concerns about spills and vulnerabilities to our tourism and fisheries.
“Cooper said Zinke made no promises. The governor, along with Attorney General Josh Stein, requested an extension of the federal government’s comment period on the issue and proposed three additional public hearings near the coast — in Wilmington, Morehead City and Kill Devil Hills. Zinke was receptive to that, Cooper said, and plans a visit to coastal North Carolina.
“He said that he was listening, and he heard each and every one of us,” Cooper said. “I think generally he was pretty positive about what we said. He didn’t make any promises to us.”
Stressing that North Carolina’s coast has special circumstances, Cooper pressed his case that there is no such thing as safe oil exploration in the stormy waters known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” He was surrounded by local leaders from coastal areas, a fisherman and a marine geologist from East Carolina University.
“We told him that North Carolina’s coast was unique,” Cooper said. “We told him that our tourism economy was over a $3 billion economy. We told him about how slow-moving water in our estuaries would face catastrophe were there to be an oil spill.””
Cooper and Stein will do anything they can to keep North Carolina and her citizens from the billions in additional economic activity, thousands of jobs, and, most importantly, the reality that Leftist hysteria about energy extraction being an unacceptable threat to the environment and coastal industries is bunk.
Consider the contrast between Cooper’s environmentalist alarmism and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s exceedingly reasonable position of seeing what is out there that North Carolina can benefit from.
No such thing as ‘safe oil exploration in the stormy waters known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ Roy? You might want to tell that to those who have been safely and successfully pulling oil from the North Sea, one of the most violent seas on the planet, for decades. Not to mention the nearly $1 trillion investment fund the Norwegians have generated from oil proceeds.
Luckily, Cooper is not the only one that had Zinke’s ear during his stop in Raleigh.
“Later, Zinke tweeted a photo of the meeting, writing, “Thank you to @NC_Governor Roy Cooper for taking the time for today’s meeting on the benefits and concerns of offshore energy. Appreciate the dialogue with local stakeholders too.” Then, in another tweet, he thanked legislators for meeting with him, and included a posed photo of him with Republican House Speaker Tim Moore.“
State lawmakers also had the chance to make their case. Some Republican House members like Rep. Ted Davis (R-Wilmington) apparently have also been drinking the environmentalist Kool-Aid, though.
“On Saturday, Davis said he told Zinke that every town and county in his district had passed resolutions against drilling. He said he was grateful that Zinke agreed to hold a hearing at the coast. “One thing he did say is this is not going to be a rushed process,” said Davis, adding that he was the only lawmaker in the meeting who expressed constituents’ concerns about drilling.”
Good – that means the other Republicans in the meeting had some sense and likely encouraged Zinke to keep North Carolina open to such a potential boon to the State’s economy.
Still, Stein and Cooper are beating the drum hard that merely opening up the Outer Continental Shelf for energy exploration means the economic skies will fall and everything will drown in oil. Despite Zinke informing them that all exploration and potential drilling would take place 60-70 miles offshore, the North Carolina Left is adamant that it will destroy tourism and fisheries.
“Earlier this week, Stein led a coalition of 12 attorneys general to write to the federal government, expressing what they believe is “a grave risk” to coastal states, Stein said.
“We have some of the best fisheries in the entire world off of our shore, and that is what drives our economy,” Stein said Saturday. “Our economy is entirely dependent on tourism and fisheries. We cannot risk having a Deepwater Horizon oil spill ruin the entire economic basis of our coastal part of the state.””
First of all, North Carolina’s economy as a whole is not ‘entirely dependent’ on tourism and the fisheries. Many coastal communities are, though, but that is another reason those constituents should favor free market development of a hi-tech, high pay, sustainable industry that diversifies and balances their economies.
Fisheries are not at risk of disappearing, even if a Deepwater Horizon level spill did happen. And the extraction infrastructure itself has been known to provide artificial anchors for marine ecosystems that recreational fishermen would gravitate toward.
Tourism would roll on just like before, with no beach-goer being the wiser to exploration and extraction equipment being put to work 70 miles offshore, beyond the horizon.
Still, Stein and Cooper would have you believe that it is a risk not worth taking, and we should instead pursue more Big Government subsidization of ‘Renewable Energy.’
“Cooper said the bottom line is that drilling makes no sense for the economy, given the availability of other renewable energy resources. He added that Zinke admitted that North Carolina did not have the infrastructure in place, anyway.
“We’ve been saying since this summer: no way, not off our coast,” Cooper said. “North Carolina’s coast is too important to our state.””
You read that right – ‘drilling makes no sense for the economy’ according to Cooper.
Raised in Morehead City, this author can assure you that safe and responsible offshore energy development would make a ton of sense for coastal economies that are currently beholden to the ebb and flow of the tourism tide.
While Cooper quips that we don’t have infrastructure in place anyway, that fact only adds to the high level of economic investment potential that would come from allowing energy companies to develop these resources. From onshore services, to high paying offshore jobs, and steady revenue sharing practices like those in Alaska and elsewhere – it would be a win-win.
If the Left has their way, North Carolinians will be losing out on an incredible opportunity for prosperity that could last generations. All because the ‘Jobs Governor’ doesn’t want to upset the Environmentalists.