Governor Cooper Moves to Protect Coastal Communities, Announces Opposition to Offshore Drilling

July 20, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

(July 20, 2017) This morning, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced his administration’s commitment to oppose offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the Atlantic waters adjacent to the North Carolina coast.

“EDF applauds Governor Cooper for his commitment to preserving North Carolina’s coast and iconic Outer Banks for future generations,” said David Kelly, Manager of North Carolina Political Affairs for Environmental Defense Fund. “The livelihoods, values, and regional traditions of our state’s coastal communities are intimately linked to the health of the coastal environment and its abundant natural resources.”

Governor Cooper’s remarks today highlighted his deep concerns about the risks offshore oil and gas drilling pose to the coastal environment and natural resources that sustain North Carolina’s substantial but fragile coastal fishing and tourism economy.

“The Atlantic waters along North Carolina’s coast and the complex estuarine systems of the Outer Banks support globally important marine life and biodiversity, and should be protected from the risks associated with offshore oil and gas drilling and the intensive industrialization of the coast that comes with it,” said Kelly. “With his announcement today, Governor Cooper renews our state’s enduring commitment to the preservation of the beaches, wetlands, estuaries, fish habitats, marine mammals and other aquatic species that support our state’s small businesses and robust coastal fishing and tourism economy.”

The Governor was joined at today’s event by business leaders and local officials representing communities all along the North Carolina coast.

His announcement comes at a time when federal budget cuts could increase risks from offshore oil and gas drilling.

In the wake of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was established in the U.S. Department of the Interior and given primary responsibility for ensuring safety and environmental protection in offshore energy development. However, President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 for BSEE includes a nearly 45 percent reduction in funding for environmental enforcement from this year’s levels.

“Given the significant funding cuts for federal safety and environmental enforcement programs proposed in the President’s budget, coastal governors, local leaders and residents should all be skeptical that safety and environmental enforcement remain a priority for the Administration,” said Kelly.

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