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Our View: Carolina coastline no place for oil rigs

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Rocky Mount Telegram

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Trump administration’s announcement last week of a five-year plan to open up areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans to offshore drilling has been pointedly and correctly met with a wave of bipartisan condemnation.

The proposal calls for expanded drilling in the Arctic, opening up waters for drilling off California for the first time in more than three decades and allowing drilling from Florida to Maine in areas that have been blocked for decades.

The announcement comes less than a week after the administration proposed to rewrite or kill safety regulations on offshore drilling imposed after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and triggered the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Gov. Roy Cooper joined a chorus of coastal state leaders — including Republican Govs. Rick Scott of Florida and Larry Hogan of Maryland — in blasting the plan. Cooper, who declared his staunch opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order in April to expand offshore drilling, said Thursday that such drilling “represents a critical threat” to the state's coastal economy and that his administration “will pursue every option” to prevent it from happening.

Good for him. He couldn’t be more on point.

As the governor rightly points out, offshore drilling poses too much of a threat to the state’s commercial fishing and tourist industries, marine wildlife and beach ecosystem and environment.

An oil spill such as the Deepwater Horizon could saddle the state with tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs and cause a catastrophic blow to the state’s $3 billion commercial fishing and tourism industries.

And with the explosion in the availability of cleaner burning natural gas and a worldwide glut of oil, it makes no economic sense to open up vast tracts of shoreline in a mad rush for oil as if the country were in the grips of the energy crisis of the 1970s.

We still adhere to the firm and defiant declaration Cooper made in April on the beach at Fort Macon State Park: “Not off our coast.”

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