Our barrier islands, under siege

From the Outer Banks to Sunset Beach, North Carolina has some of the country’s nation’s most famous beaches. 

Drawing more than 11 million visitors every year, North Carolina’s coastal communities give us a chance to swim, fish, surf, or catch a glimpse of hatching sea turtles. They also support a thriving fishing and tourist economy. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce coastal visitors spent roughly $4 billion in 2013 alone.

A renewed push to drill off the coast

In January, the Obama administration announced plans to open up the Atlantic coast, from Virginia through Georgia to offshore oil drilling. The oil and gas industry, along with Gov. Pat McCrory applauded the decision. Some of our state leaders, including Sen. Thom Tillis criticized the announcement as not going far enough, and have asked to move the current 50-mile limit even closer to shore.

Drilling has been banned on the Atlantic coast for 30 years—and for good reason. Gulf communities are still reeling from the impacts of the BP oil spill that happened in 2010. Now oil and gas interests have their sights set off the coast of Cape Hatteras, home to more marine life — including sea turtles, dolphins, and whales — than most places in the world. Ancient deep-water coral reefs off of Wrightsville Beach are also at risk.

How we can protect our coast

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is in the process of determining the next five-year plan for oil and gas leasing. That plan runs from 2017-2022, and could be finalized as soon as next summer.

We’re demanding that the Obama administration remove North Carolina from the plan. To make that happen, North Carolinians need to come together and voice their opposition to drilling.

The bill, introduced on the one-year anniversary of the Gulf spill by Sen. Bob Rucho, promoted opening North Carolina's Outer Banks and the rest of our fragile coastal areas to oil and gas drilling.  

After repeatedly failing to garner enough votes to override the veto, legislative leaders finally let their drill, baby, drill bill languish—for now. 

We at Environment North Carolina will continue to stand up for our beaches, and press for permanent protections for our coast.

 


 

Oceans updates

Report | Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center

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