Tonight, Kure Beach, North Carolina became the 100th East Coast municipality to formally oppose offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting off the East Coast. Oceana applauded the town resolution and called on President Obama to abandon his proposed plan to open the Atlantic Ocean to industrial offshore drilling for the first time in U.S. history.
“Small coastal towns like Kure Beach have the most to lose from this dirty and dangerous proposal, but their voices are going unheard in Raleigh and Washington,” said Randy Sturgill, senior campaign organizer at Oceana. “It’s time for Governor McCrory and President Obama to stop listening to false promises from Big Oil and start listening to coastal communities who are saying loud and clear that they don’t want offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting off their coast.”
Kure Beach originally made headlines nearly two years ago, when then-Mayor Dean Lambeth sent a letter supporting offshore oil and gas exploration to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management without first soliciting public input. The letter, which was found to be written by America’s Energy Forum, an oil and gas lobbying group sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, created an uproar in the small town of 2,000 full-time residents. More than 300 people flooded the town hall to testify at the January 2014 city council meeting. Citizen after citizen spoke in opposition to seismic airgun blasting, while only two spoke in support – both paid employees of the oil industry. Emilie Swearingen, a town commissioner at the time, openly criticized the mayor’s action. Last month, Swearingen was sworn in as mayor, having unseated Lambeth.
"Almost exactly two years ago, the residents of Kure Beach and Pleasure Island voiced their opinions in opposition to seismic testing and drilling for offshore oil,” said Emilie Swearingen, mayor of Kure Beach. “Those of us who care about our environment, our tourist industry and our quality of life have listened, and now we look forward to joining nearly 100 municipalities who have sent resolutions to our leaders in Washington, D.C. in opposition to offshore oil."
While the Department of the Interior considers opening a large swath of the Atlantic to offshore drilling, spanning from Virginia to Georgia, opposition continues to mount. As of today, 100 East Coast municipalities (30 in North Carolina), more than 600 federal, state and local elected officials, and over 750 business interests have all publically opposed offshore drilling, citing threats to marine life, coastal communities and local economies. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.
Seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is also being considered for an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida. Last year, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the impacts of seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, stating that “the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which approximately only 500 remain.”
Oceana’s own analysis finds that offshore wind would produce twice the number of jobs and twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, without the risk of a catastrophic oil spill. For North Carolina specifically, offshore wind would produce more than twice as many jobs and 30 percent more energy than offshore drilling in 20 years.
To watch Oceana’s short video about the growing opposition to Atlantic drilling, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfugAV7BWoE.
For more information, please visit www.StopTheDrill.org.