WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Several buses left from Wilmington, Morehead City and Nags Head to bring coastal residents to Raleigh for a public meeting on offshore drilling on Monday.
The federal government proposes to allow drilling for oil and gas off North Carolina's beaches, but coastal residents are upset after being asked to travel hundreds of miles to Raleigh to talk with officials about this plan.
"This lease plan would most affect the people who live, work, retire, and play at the coast," said Mike Giles from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. "We feel like it is a direct assault on public participation. This is a strategy to suppress public participation."
Thirteen buses left for Raleigh, and Giles encouraged those who could drive or were unable to make the bus, as well as people from other parts of the state, to attend the public meeting.
"Our state's economy is dependent on coastal tourism to a large part and commercial and recreational fishing," he said. "Without clean water and a healthy coast, where are all the people going to open their restaurants? How are they going to rent their houses? Where are people going to work if we have a disaster like the Deep Water Horizon or the Exxon Valdez?"
Giles also said that the oil companies talk a lot about jobs coming to North Carolina, but he doesn't believe that will happen.
"The federal government actually said if they were to drill off of North Carolina's coast, then the jobs wouldn't come here," said Giles. "They would go to Virginia and South Carolina where they have the infrastructure and the ports to handle that. We don't have that here. Our economy is dependent on tourism. Those numbers don't match up with the current numbers our economy is based on."
Buses left from the Wilmington Home Depot on Eastwood Rd. at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
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