NC attorney general files federal lawsuit to block offshore drilling

NC attorney general files federal lawsuit to block offshore drilling

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Attorney General Josh Stein on Wednesday announced he has filed a lawsuit that seeks to block the Trump Administration from allowing seismic exploration for oil and gas off the North Carolina coast.

“Protecting our state’s beautiful natural resources – and the critical economic benefits they bring to our state – is one of the most important mandates of my job,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: We do not want drilling off our coast. I am going to court to fight on their behalf.”

The Trump administration overruled North Carolina’s objections to offshore drilling, opening the way for WesternGeco, one of five companies seeking to conduct seismic exploration, to move one step closer to receiving necessary permits.

Seismic testing uses powerful airguns that blast sounds at the ocean floor repeatedly for long periods of time. Marine experts say these sounds can harm sea life and coastal resources – and could have significant impacts on North Carolina’s fishing and tourism industries.

”It will have real impact on marine life and our fisheries, which will damage our economy,” Stein said.

The state denied a permit WesternGeco needed to move forward with the process after holding a series of hearings, but the federal government cast that aside, which Stein argues violate’s the state’s right to control what happens off the coast.

“They ignored the decision that the state of North Carolina made, I find that offensive and that’s why I’m going to go to court to try to stop it,” he said.

Stein said coastal communities are largely in agreement that they don’t want drilling allowed.

“Almost every single coastal county commission has issued a resolution opposing these oil rigs, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Democratic commission or Republican commission. This is not a partisan issue,” the attorney general said. “This is do you value the Outer Banks, the crystal coast, the Brunswick beaches, and if you do and you recognize its importance to the vitality and health of eastern North Carolina, then you will inevitably oppose the oil rigs.”

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