April 23, 2019/Press

Coastal NC Continues to Tell Tillis: No Drilling Off Our Coast

Raleigh – Senator Tillis recently reaffirmed his support for offshore drilling, voting to confirm oil lobbyist David Bernhardt, bending over backwards to explain that he and President Trump are “in the same place” on the issue, and affirming that he continues to support “the process” of opening up our shores.

Coastal communities, however, feel very differently – and they’re speaking out.

Last week, three Brunswick County communities joined a lawsuit that seeks to block private companies from conducting seismic air gun tests in the Atlantic Ocean, according to The State Port Pilot. The communities join the nearly 200 businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups that have come outagainst offshore drilling off North Carolina’s coast and at least 30 communitiesthat have passed resolutions opposing drilling or seismic testing.

The brief speaks to Brunswick County’s 35 miles of ocean beach and the importance of the ocean to the larger economy:

“A healthy coastal ecosystem is vital to a healthy coast economy. Coastal seismic air-gun testing stands to cause significant and irreparable (harm) to both.”

North Carolina’s ocean economy – which represents more than 43,000 jobs statewide and in Brunswick County alone brings in $1.7-millon a year in revenue – would be imperiled by seismic testing, as would tourism, fishing and wildlife, the brief states. “Seismic air-gun testing takes aim at these blessings and threatens to cause irreparable harm to the ocean and its related economy.”

Aside from the environmental and economic costs, seismic testing and offshore drilling would mean higher taxes for coastal communities, according to the Pilot:

At the most recent meeting, Caswell Beach Town Administrator Chad Hicks said that the small town relies on $5.2-million of beach rentals and $325,000 in annual income from accommodations taxes. “We’d have to raise property taxes 40 to 50-percent if that went away,” Hicks said.

“Coastal communities have made it clear that they want to protect our coast from dangerous offshore drilling, yet Senator Tillis refuses to listen to them because he would rather stay on the president’s good side,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “Offshore drilling would threaten our coastal communities, economies, and environments, and could mean higher costs for families along the coast. North Carolina’s coastal communities can’t afford a senator who puts politics before the wishes of our local communities.”