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Majority Say No To Drilling, Seismic Testing

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held three public hearings in coastal communities this week to receive feedback on the proposed federal oil and gas leasing program along the Atlantic coast.

All of three hearings brought out a near consensus of voices that oppose drilling and seismic testing.

The first hearing on the proposed federal offshore leasing program Aug. 7 at the New Hanover County Government Center in Wilmington drew a crowd of about 175. An overwhelming majority of the 35 that spoke were in opposition of offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling, expressing concerns about how such activity would result in oil spills, destroy the coastal economy and irreparably harm the environment, Coastal Review Online reported. A small handful were in favor of the program.

The Carteret County News-Times reported that about 200 showed Aug. 9 at the second public hearing, which took place in the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. Of the 190 that signed up to attend, though more may have attended, 31 spoke, with 26 opposed testing and drilling. There were a few speakers who didn’t voice opposition during the hearing with at least three representing or having previously worked for the oil drilling or seismic testing industry. A couple other speakers were for testing “to see what’s out there,” but indicated they were not yet necessarily for actual drilling and production.

According to the Outer Banks Voice, there was a crowd of 124 people Thursday at final public hearing in the Dare County government complex in the Board of Commissioners meeting room Manteo. The 34 who spoke publicly delivered a strong message to the hearing’s panel members — drilling and seismic testing off the North Carolina coast is not wanted.

Not a single speaker offered comments in favor of offshore drilling, the Outer Banks Voice reported. About a dozen speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the perceived pro-drilling stance of the state legislature, which is heavily dominated by Republicans. Others expressed concerns about the federal role in the final decision-making and whether Washington will listen to the strong opposition to offshore drilling up and down the Atlantic seaboard.

BOEM is supposed to take the comments from North Carolina and other states that would be affected by drilling along the Atlantic Ocean continental shelf into consideration as they develop a five-year plan on exploiting oil and gas deposits along the continental shelf.

For those unable to attend, comments can be submitted to Timothy Webster, 217 West Jones St., 1601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C., 27699-1601, or by email timothy.webster@ncdenr.gov. All comments are due by Tuesday.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.