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Energy & Environment

State Sues After U.S. Approves Offshore Seismic Testing For NC Coast

Map shows where WesternGeco plans seismic testing off the North Carolina coast.
WesternGeco
Map shows where WesternGeco plans seismic testing off the North Carolina coast.

North Carolina is appealing a federal decision to allow offshore seismic testing in advance of potential drilling for oil and gas. 

Last year, the state formally objected to a private company's plan to begin testing in North Carolina's coastal waters. Under federal law, that objection effectively barred any permits from being issued. But in June, federal officials overrode the state's objection and gave the go-ahead for testing by the company, WesternGeco. So the state has appealed that decision at U.S. District Court in Raleigh. 

Seismic testing blasts sound waves at the ocean floor to help map potential oil and gas deposits. State officials worry that could harm sea life and the environment. 

“We will continue to take all necessary actions to protect our coastal resources and economy,” N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan said in a statement Wednesday. “These destructive activities are not welcome off the North Carolina coastline. We support the communities along our coast who have vehemently opposed seismic testing that would lead to offshore drilling.”

Twenty-one local leaders from coastal North Carolina signed a resolution a year ago opposing offshore testing and drilling, something the Trump administration has pushed for over the past two years. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said, "North Carolina has been clear, we do not want seismic testing in our coastal waters, or the damage from offshore drilling that could follow."