Environment: Coastal communities in southeastern U.S. not exactly enthusiastic about offshore oil and gas drilling

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Where there is drilling, there are oil spills. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.

Offshore wind energy projects touted as better alternative

Staff Report

FRISCO — Cities along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are lining up to oppose offshore fossil fuel exploitation. Earlier this week, the  Morehead City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling.

The council’s resolution expresses concerns that federal plans for offshore oil and gas exploration and development threaten coastal communities, economies, fisheries and marine mammals.

The city was reacting to the Obama administration’s proposed plans to opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Georgia, to offshore drilling. Meanwhile, seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is continuing to move forward in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida.

“We applaud the Morehead City Council for taking a stand against Big Oil and saying NO to seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling,” said Randy Sturgill, a campaign organizer with Oceana, an ocean advocacy group.

“Opposition to East Coast drilling is growing every day … Only three weeks ago, the port city of Wilmington passed a similar resolution unanimously. Opening up the Atlantic to offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business; there are countless risks with little to no reward,” Sturgill said. “We encourage local residents and their elected officials to continue to speak out against this short-sighted plan to open up the Atlantic to dirty and dangerous drilling. Governor McCrory and the federal government should be listening.”

According to Oceana, more than 70 East Coast communities have formally opposed seismic airgun blasting and/or offshore drilling, including 19 in North Carolina such as Beaufort and Surf City.

In addition, more than 90 members of Congress, roughly 500 local and state officials, over 160 conservation and animal welfare organizations, as well as the Billfish Foundation, the International Game Fish Association, the Southeastern Fisheries Associationthe South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, have all publically opposed offshore oil exploration.

There’s plenty of scientific evidence against seismic airgun blasting. In March, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama, warning that “the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which approximately only 500 remain.”

“These efforts could destroy our coastal economies and communities for decades to come,” said Sturgill. “If allowed, this plan would open the East Coast to industrial offshore drilling for the first time in U.S. history. Offshore drilling in the Atlantic would lead to a coast scattered with oil and gas rigs, the industrialization of coastal communities and the looming threat of a Deepwater Horizon-like disaster.”

“All the port cities in the Carolinas and Georgia, from Morehead City to Savannah, GA, which would be needed for offshore drilling off the East Coast, are simply not willing to trade in their oceans or their way of life all for less than 4 percent of the nation’s total oil and natural gas reserves,” he continued.

Oceana’s own analysis found that offshore wind would create twice the number of jobs and generate twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, without the risk of a catastrophic spill. For North Carolina specifically, offshore wind would produce more than twice as many jobs and nearly thirty percent more energy than offshore drilling in twenty years.

For more information about Oceana’s efforts, please click here.

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One thought on “Environment: Coastal communities in southeastern U.S. not exactly enthusiastic about offshore oil and gas drilling

  1. natural oil pockets leak, seep and spill on their own. when we drill the pressure in the pocket can be reduced and prevent seeping/leaking

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