OBX Opposes Offshore Drilling

Ensure a Healthy Beach in Your Backyard – Your Voice Matters!
Worth saving
Worth saving
Crystal Canterbury

by guest writer Cyndy Holda

March is upon us! Springtime…..almost time once again to escape and spend hours in the great outdoors! But if you have a few minutes before March 9th and are looking for a bipartisan issue to bring your community and neighbors back together again, voice your concerns and opinions for the “No Drilling Off Our Coast” effort. Yes! Your voice matters in opposition to offshore oil and gas development so do something positive for our statewide coastlines! 

Several state and county-level and non-profit organizations recently combined efforts and sponsored a “Rally to Raleigh” bus trip to our state capital so that over 400 concerned citizens could attend the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) open house at the Hilton North Raleigh hotel on February 26th. Busloads of people from the three strategic coastal locations, the northern Outer Banks, Morehead City, and Wilmington, NC, converged on the hotel to show a rare but welcomed bipartisan support effort. Those concerned citizens and business owners let our NC elected officials and BOEM staff know that our coastal communities are adamantly opposed to offshore oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is currently working under the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, known as the 2017-2022 National OCS Program, for offshore oil and gas development, which was approved in 2016. But President Trump signed an executive order in April 2017 which develops a new National OCS Program for 2019-2024 that, if approved, will be the new “law of the land” for offshore oil and gas exploration and development of offshore waters along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. 

Cora and Sam represent at the 2016 Ocracoke Hands Across the Sand event.
Cora and Sam represent at the 2016 Ocracoke Hands Across the Sand event.

At the open house, hosted by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the rally was hosted by a coalition of environmental groups where the resounding chants of “not off our coast” and “no drill! no spills!” and “don’t drill NC” could be heard reverberating through the meeting rooms and hallways. Several advocates for renewable, sustainable, and cleaner energy sources, like solar and wind, explained that these sources can fill the need for future energy demands. Ocracoke’s new microgrid project with 62 solar panels is a prime example of this new innovative energy source.

Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan thanked the crowd for coming and reminded everyone that it had not gone unnoticed by Governor Roy Cooper that the long bus ride had to be made because the federal agency did not come to the Outer Banks, those communities whose valuable tourism and fishing industries would be most devastated by an oil spill like Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Regan stated, “Interior Secretary Zinke and BOEM didn’t come to you, but you brought it to them.” Regan made it clear that Governor Cooper would stand with the people of North Carolina in opposition to this federal proposal.

Dana Hirschman, senior deputy attorney general with the Department of Justice Environmental Division, said whatever happens will ultimately depend on what course the federal government takes and further stated, “We hope the federal administration will revisit this and respond to the widespread public opposition... and will take this off the table. But if they do not, our NC attorney general stands ready to do what is necessary to protect our coast resources and our coastal communities.” 

Jim Filostrat, a BOEM spokesperson, said the possibility of information sessions in the coastal areas is being considered (time is running out!) but that a decision on the issue of opening offshore leases would likely come in the fall of 2018.

OBX Opposes Offshore Drilling

So what can you do?  Let your voice be heard before March 9th! 

Go to: http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=BOEM-2017-0074-0001

Click the blue “Comment Now” button in the upper right hand corner to enter your comments.  Fill in the appropriate blanks and at the end you can click “Send Email” to have a copy of your comments you submitted to BOEM sent directly to your email address from Regulations.gov.

Or send your hand written comments to:

Ms. Kelly Hammerie, National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development Manager Leasing Division/Office of Strategic Resources, Mail Stop: VAM-LD, 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166-9216 

Envelopes for hand written comments should be labeled “Comments for the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program” and must be postmarked by March 9, 2018.

Talking Points You May Want to Consider in your Comments:

  • Offshore oil drilling in the hurricane-prone Atlantic can result in costly and deadly oil spills
  • Oil spills are inevitable and the oil companies have proven time and time again they have no guarantee they can stop the spill once an accident or leak occurs; remember Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound off Alaskan waters in 1989 that spewed 10 million gallons? Or Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 with 20 million gallons wasted and costs $65 BILLION to clean up?
  • Oil spills devastate local economies. North Carolina’s $3 billion annual coastal tourism economy that would cease to exist for an undetermined time depending on the severity of the spill; the fishing, tourism, and recreation industries of North Carolina support roughly 51,000 jobs; we should not prioritize oil company profits over our coastal businesses and the health and welfare of our communities and citizens.
  • Simply put, the threats to marine life and the economic costs to coastal communities more than outweighs the potential benefit, especially when there ARE other cleaner, renewable energy sources that we should be funding and exploring. Time and time again, the risks have proven to be burdensome on the people and coastal businesses of this country while benefits will accrue to a few.
  • Tourism and fishing, both commercial and recreational, are the economic backbone of our coastal communities and critically important to our way of life. 
  • Offshore drilling and seismic blasting devastates wildlife. North Carolina’s offshore waters are home to countless marine mammals and a healthy, productive fishing area. A number of endangered and threatened species including the loggerhead turtle and the North Atlantic right whale can be found in our coastal ocean waters.
  • North Carolina’s coastlines have bountiful public lands for all people to enjoy including America’s first National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Cape Lookout National Seashore, several National Wildlife Refuges and state protected areas that are all homes and nurseries to a myriad of marine life and animals, oysters and countless other shellfish, birds, fish, and small mammals……all of whom could not survive the impacts of a major oil spill.
  • The Albemarle Pamlico Sound Estuary is the second largest in the United States and is one of the most important estuaries in terms of ecological importance. It serves as a marine nursery, if you will, to countless organisms, including people.

Cyndy is retired from the National Park Service where she was the Public Affairs Specialist for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. She works at the Outer Banks Visitor Bureau and serves on the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Committee. 



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