RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory, in a letter dated Tuesday to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, urges federal agencies to promptly complete their review of applications to permit seismic surveys for oil and natural gas off the North Carolina coast.
McCrory writes of his disappointment in the Interior Department’s decision announced in March to remove from consideration offshore lease sales in the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-22.
“At a time when the United States should be moving toward energy security, we should not close the door on offshore energy exploration before we know what Mid-Atlantic OCS resources can be harnessed in an environmentally sound way,” according to McCrory’s letter. “The proposed federal program unreasonably elevates the demands and unsubstantiated concerns of special interest groups above the interests of the vast majority of Americans who seek the economic prosperity and energy independence that offshore exploration would bring to our nation.”
Jewell and Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, said on March 15 that factors considered in the decision included potential conflicts with other ocean uses, including the U.S. Defense Department and commercial interests, market dynamics, limited infrastructure and opposition from many coastal communities.
McCrory writes that he, as “governor of the most military-friendly state in the country,” appreciates the need to protect military training abilities, but expressed confidence in his administration’s Department of Military and Veteran Affairs in safeguarding military activity in the region.
New seismic techniques will provide policy makers and industry more accurate estimates of offshore resources, according to McCrory’s letter. Surveying done in 2014 caused no disturbance or injury to marine life, he writes.
Opponents of seismic surveying say the effects of seismic surveying on marine species are not well understood and more research is needed prior to permitting.
Eight companies seek permits to conduct seismic surveys in areas off the southern Atlantic coast between Delaware and Florida.