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Our View: Cooper rightly pans offshore drilling

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Rocky Mount Telegram

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gov. Roy Cooper was right on the mark last week in declaring his staunch opposition to opening up North Carolina’s coast to offshore drilling. 

Cooper made the announcement Thursday on the beach at Fort Macon State Park in Cataret County, one day before the deadline for elected officials to submit comment on the Trump administration’s request for companies to perform seismic testing under the Atlantic Ocean.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April to expand oil drilling into the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, reversing restrictions imposed by President Barack Obama. The federal government is now seeking permits for five businesses to use seismic air guns to find oil and gas formations underneath the Atlantic Ocean.

Cooper joins Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in opposing any plan to drill for oil and gas off the Atlantic coastline.

Cooper rightly pointed out that offshore drilling poses too much of a threat to the state’s commercial fishing and tourist industries, marine wildlife and beach ecosystem and environment. 

An oil spill such as the Exxon Valdez in 1989 or Deepwater Horizon in 2010 could saddle the state with tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and cause a catastrophic blow to the state’s $3 billion commercial fishing and tourism industries.

Drilling supporters point to the economic benefits offshore drilling could bring to coastal counties. But such benefits likely would be over the short term in select places — a dubious potential payoff that is not worth the risk of one future disaster, the cost of which would be ten-fold that of any potential economic stimulus from drilling.

With the explosion in the availability of cleaner burning natural gas and a worldwide glut of oil, it makes no economic sense to open up vast tracts of shoreline in a mad rush for oil as if the country were in the grips of the energy crisis of the 1970s. Add in the exponential growth of the state’s solar and wind power industries, and it makes even less sense.

Cooper couldn’t have been more direct and correct when he steadfastly declared: “Not off our coast.”

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