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Tick Tock: Deadline Nears for Public Comment on Offshore Drilling

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017   

BEAUFORT, N.C. – Citizens have two more days to weigh in on restarting the process of offshore drilling on North Carolina's coast. The Trump administration announced it was restarting the process of oil and gas leases earlier this year after the Obama administration put those ocean areas off limits for drilling.

With thousands of jobs on the North Carolina coast supported by tourism and fishing, the president of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce, Tom Kies, is speaking up.

"To have offshore drilling potential could be a potential disaster," he says. "Nobody on the coast wants to see offshore drilling, except perhaps the oil companies."

Kies is also a member of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, an organization that has also protested oil and gas exploration in ocean waters.

In addition to the potential damage to the coastline, Kies and others are concerned about the seismic testing that's part of the process. The blasts can be heard for thousands of miles and have been proven to have a negative impact on ocean life, in addition to being a nuisance for residents.

Steve Machuda, managing attorney for oceans for Earthjustice, says beyond the projected negative impacts on the coast if everything goes right in the drilling process, it's important to remember how bad things can be if they go wrong.

"The big environmental concern with oil and gas drilling is the possibility of an oil spill," he says. "We have a vivid and recent example of what can go wrong from the Gulf of Mexico and the Deepwater Horizon spill. Oil and gas drilling off those shores is just not worth the risk."

Supporters of offshore drilling say it's needed for the country's energy independence and offers job potential to the region. Kies says he and other business leaders aren't buying it.

"They're not local," Kies notes. "They claim that they're going to be bringing jobs, but we don't see any evidence of that and with the drop in oil prices, the stories are right now that they're actually reducing manpower on a lot of their offshore rigs. They're becoming more and more automated."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has spoken out against offshore drilling, calling it a threat to the state's beaches and tourism economy.


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