Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday that state officials will let the Trump administration know North Carolina is opposed to oil and gas drilling off the state coast.
Last year, the Obama administration approved a five-year drilling plan that didn’t allow offshore exploration off the Atlantic coast. But President Donald Trump recently reversed that stance, reopened the plan and put North Carolina back on the list for potential offshore drilling.
Friday is the deadline for states to submit a response to the federal government regarding seismic testing, which is used to find potential oil and gas deposits under the ocean floor.
“Our coast is part of our identity,” Cooper told a crowd at Fort Macon State Park, near Atlantic Beach.
He noted that coastal tourism brings in about $3 billion a year and is responsible for about 30,000 jobs. The commercial fishing industry generates another $95 million a year, he said.
“There is a threat looming over this coastline that we love and the prosperity it brings, and that’s the threat of offshore drilling,” he said. “I can sum [my stance] up in four words: Not off our coast.”
Offshore drilling would bring more risk than potential benefit to North Carolina, Cooper said.
An oil spill would devastate the coastal environment and economy for years, he said, and the Trump administration is eliminating regulations that provide some safeguards against spills.
Meanwhile, other energy alternatives, such as solar and natural gas, are cheaper and plentiful, making it unnecessary to explore for oil in the Atlantic Ocean, he said. Also, North Carolina would likely see little revenue from any drilling.
“It is simply not worth it, North Carolina. It is not worth it,” Cooper said.
Scientists have long said it’s unlikely that there’s much oil or gas to find off the coast, and 30 coastal communities and about 200 businesses have come out in opposition to drilling.