North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on 20 July that his administration will oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to open Atlantic Ocean waters to offshore oil and gas drilling. Cooper’s decision reverses the state’s policy under former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who urged federal officials to promote energy exploration in ocean waters to help the nation achieve energy independence.
Making his announcement from Fort Macon State Park in coastal Carteret County, Cooper said the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will submit antidrilling arguments to the US Department of Commerce. Cooper said offshore energy exploration poses risks of oil spills to local ecosystems, tourist economies, and the commercial fishing industry but added that North Carolina workers and ports would see few benefits from drilling in federal ocean waters miles offshore.
“I can sum it up in four words: Not off our coast,” Cooper said. “It is simply not worth the risk.”
President Barack Obama had declared Atlantic and Arctic waters off-limits for future offshore energy drilling, but in April President Donald Trump issued an executive order to resume federal reviews for offshore drilling prospects.
The position of a governor is given greater deference than ordinary public comments, because state support is one of eight factors weighed by the Department of Interior in deciding whether to allow offshore energy exploration. Other factors include interest from energy companies, environmental sensitivity and the location of the drill pads in relation to the nation’s energy markets.