Brunswick commissioners still 'support' offshore drilling

Brunswick commissioners still 'support' offshore drilling

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Brunswick County Commissioners still "officially" support seismic testing and oil exploration off the coast.

Commissioners discussed a new resolution Monday to adopt a more neutral stance on the issue, after approving a resolution last month to support the offshore activities. Commissioner Randy Thompson made a motion to vote on the new resolution, with Thompson and Commissioner Pat Sykes voting for the resolution. Commissioners Marty Cooke and Scott Phillips voted against it. Commissioner Frank Williams asked to recuse himself from the vote, citing clients on both sides of the issue. The 2-2 vote means the new resolution failed, and the resolution in support is still in place.

More than 20 North Carolina cities, towns and counties, and more than 74 municipalities on the East Coast, have passed formal resolutions against offshore drilling. As of right now, Brunswick County is the only place to say yes.

"From looking at it from both sides and trying to determine what is the most objective over site perspective, I'm in favor of the seismic testing because I don't think it's going to hurt anyone," said Commissioner  Marty Cooke, who is among those in favor of the resolution.

Cooke has spent time with various organizations and committees that have researched and studied seismic testing and oil drilling, and while he says there are risks, he believes there are safe ways for it to be done.

"You always have a concern with any type of industry or any type of activity, with that being said you have to do it safely and with regulatory over site," he explained. "And that will be done if and when we do the seismic studies."

Commissioner Pat Sykes sent the following statement about the Commissioners plans:

"On July 6, 2015, when the Commissioner's adopted a resolution in support of the seismic surveys and offshore drilling and development, I was not opposed. But due to additional information from concern citizens against and for this research, I felt it would be best to amend our resolution to remain neutral until more information could be provided. In addition, I would like for the State and Federal Government to advise us on what their plans are, how the County will benefit, when will this happen and do we have a say in the matter?  Also, the cities and towns in the County need to be a part of this decision. There are still lots of questions and no answers at this time."

Various groups across the state are speaking out against offshore drilling in general.

Oceana, is an international ocean conservation and advocacy organization based out of Washington DC, but their North Carolina grassroots organizer lives in Southport, NC. Randy Sturgill works to help citizens speak out about the harms that seismic testing and offshore drilling could do to to coastal communities.

"If they drill they will spill," Sturgill said.

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