By Mel Beasley
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper will use Wrightsville Beach as a backdrop for a press event this Monday opposing the White House’s plan to open more Atlantic and Pacific areas to offshore drilling.
Cooper, a Democrat, will speak to the press on Monday at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort to urge the Trump Administration to exempt North Carolina from offshore drilling, which he said could threaten the state’s $3 billion dollar tourism economy as well as the natural habitats of sea life.
On Jan. 4, President Trump reversed a previous decision by the Obama Administration and opened Atlantic and Pacific waters to offshore drilling. The drilling plan introduced by the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is one of the largest drilling plans ever proposed, which is expected to expand across approximately 90 percent of the U.S. Coastal waters over the next few years, according to the department’s website.
“Offshore drilling poses too many risks for North Carolina and our coastal economy. I look forward to the Secretary coming to visit our coast to learn firsthand the importance of tourism and commercial fishing and the damage an oil spill would cause. I will continue to urge Secretary Zinke to grant North Carolina an exemption to drilling similar to the one for Florida,” Cooper said. He also said the state’s history with hurricanes made it particularly vulnerable to a potential oil spill.
Both Wrightsville Beach and the city of Wilmington have passed resolution opposing offshore drilling in North Carolina. Additionally, in 2015, at least 30 Wrightsville Beach businesses sent a letter to then-Governor Pat McCrory, R, urging him to oppose offshore drilling.
Environmental group Oceana said that offshore drilling is commonly responsible for sending pollutants into the ocean which can harm sea life.
“One drilling platform normally drills between seventy and one hundred wells and discharges more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluids and metal cuttings into the ocean,” the group said.
Cooper’s press conference is scheduled for Monday Jan. 22 at 11:15 a.m., located at the Blockade Runner, 275 Waynick Blvd.