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NC Appeals NOAA’s Seismic Testing Decision

The survey area would stretch from South Carolina’s southern boundary to Virginia’s northern boundary and include the entire length of North Carolina’s coast. The blue polygon shows the extent of the survey area.

RALEIGH – Citing risks to the environment and the coastal economy, Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein announced Wednesday that the state has appealed a federal decision to override the state’s objection to a company’s plan for offshore seismic testing.

Stein’s announcement said the decision could have significant impacts on North Carolina’s fishing and tourism industries.

“Protecting our state’s beautiful natural resources – and the critical economic benefits they bring to our state – is one of the most important mandates of my job,” Stein said in the announcement. “North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: We do not want drilling off our coast. I am going to court to fight on their behalf.”

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Northern Division, seeks to reverse the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s decision in June to override North Carolina’s objection to the consistency certification under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

“North Carolina has been clear, we do not want seismic testing in our coastal waters, or the damage from offshore drilling that could follow,” Cooper said in a statement. “The studies of our waters show little prospect for drilling, and the environmental damage to our coast could be irreparable if seismic testing goes forward.”

WesternGeco is one of five companies seeking to conduct seismic exploration in the Atlantic.

In June 2019, the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management objected to WesternGeco’s proposal to conduct a geological and geophysical survey off the North Carolina coast. The objection came after public hearings and comments and new information from scientific researchers.

“We will continue to take all necessary actions to protect our coastal resources and economy,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “These destructive activities are not welcome off the North Carolina coastline. We support the communities along our coast who have vehemently opposed seismic testing that would lead to offshore drilling.”

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Staff Report

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