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Energy & Environment

Cooper Asks Trump To Add NC To Offshore Drilling Ban

State officials worry offshore drilling could threaten tourism, fishing and the environment.
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State officials worry offshore drilling could threaten tourism, fishing and the environment.

Gov. Roy Cooper is making another plea to President Donald Trump to include North Carolina in a ban on offshore drilling. 

Two weeks ago, President Trump announced a 10-year ban on oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. In a letter this week, Cooper told Trump he was concerned and disappointed that North Carolina wasn't on the list. 

Those three states all have Republican governors. Cooper is a Democrat. And Democratic candidates for Senate and other seats down the ballot also have made drilling an issue this year.  

Cooper said drilling and potential environmental damage would threaten North Carolina's $3 billion-a-year coastal tourism industry, as well as fishing and other natural resources. 

“I am deeply concerned and disappointed that you did not include North Carolina in the moratorium,” Cooper wrote in the letter to Trump. “Offshore drilling threatens North Carolina’s coastal economy and environment and offers our state minimal economic benefit. Accepted science tells us that there is little, if any, oil worth drilling for off North Carolina’s coast, and the risks of offshore drilling far outweigh the benefits.” 

Cooper noted that 45 North Carolina coastal communities have adopted resolutions opposing offshore drilling expansion, with bipartisan support.  

It's not the first time North Carolina officials have asked for protection. Cooper made a similar request two years ago after Trump first announced that Florida would not be part of his campaign to expand offshore drilling. 

Since then, the federal government has given the go-ahead for seismic testing to begin in the state's coastal waters, over the state's objections. Attorney General Josh Stein is appealing that order.

This month, an oil and gas exploration company that had applied for a testing permit withdrew its application.  Houston-based WesternGeco's request came in a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The bureau had not yet ruled on the application, so other companies could still apply.  

Read the letter 

Sept. 15, 2020, letter from Gov. Roy Cooper to President Donald Trump requesting offshore drilling ban