Gov. Cooper talks NC opposition to offshore drilling with Trump official

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Governor Cooper had a meeting with President Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Saturday to talk about North Carolina's opposition to offshore drilling and seismic testing, according to a press release from the Governor's office.

Elected officials and stakeholders from coastal North Carolina also joined Cooper in the meeting. They stressed the threats that offshore drilling and seismic testing pose to North Carolina's coastal economies and tourism industry.

Among those who attended the meeting was New Hanover County representative Ted Davis (R).

"I told [Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke] about Wilmington and the 3 beach towns in my House District 19, and how much it would mean to those who live here for a public hearing concerning the proposed offshore drilling plan to be held in Wilmington so that those affected could have an opportunity for their voices to be heard," Davis said. "He was very positive and said that he would do that.  Obviously, I am very excited for my constituents that this will happen."

In the meeting, Gov. Cooper made a point that offshore drilling would put North Carolina's $3 billion coastal economy, 22 barrier islands and millions of acres of estuaries at risk.

Sec. Zinke was willing to consider the concerns presented by Gov. Cooper and he also agreed to considered Cooper's request to extend the public comment period and add additional public hearings in coastal communities.

"I appreciate Secretary Zinke taking the time to come to North Carolina to hear our concerns about offshore drilling off of North Carolina's coast, but I was clear that today's meeting cannot take the place of public hearings and a visit in our coastal communities," said Gov. Cooper. "We've listened to the experts, and opening up our coast would put our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities at risk. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Not Off Our Coast."

Cooper asked Zinke for a 60-day extension of the public comment period earlier this week. He also asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold additional public hearings on the North Carolina coast in Kill Devil Hills, Morehead City, and Wilmington.

The only public feedback session scheduled to take place currently is set to be held in Raleigh as an "open house."

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