RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper’s office and the state Department of Environmental Quality filed with federal regulators on Friday comments urging denial of applications for authorization to incidentally harass marine mammals as required for seismic exploration for oil and natural gas off the North Carolina coast.
Cooper announced Thursday during an appearance at Fort Macon State Park his opposition and plans to file official comments on the harassment authorizations. Friday was the last day to file public comments on the proposed authorizations.
In his comments, Cooper notes that offshore drilling and exploration threaten the coastal region’s $3 billion tourism industry and the 30,000 jobs it supports, the $95 million commercial fishing industry and the natural resources that support the coastal economy.
“There is no 100% safe offshore drilling method, and the risk of catastrophic oil spill will always be part of the equation,” according to Cooper’s remarks. “Offshore drilling comes with massive risk to North Carolina’s economy and environment but virtually no potential economic benefit.”.
Cooper also notes that the harassment authorizations, if approved, would become part of a “faulty permitting process that deprives North Carolina of its normal consistency review for seismic activities.” The proposal fails to adequately address key scientific studies and underestimates the number of marine mammal takes that can be expected and overstates the effectiveness of mitigation measures, according to the comments.