As I've said before, the formerly-sane state of North Carolina is now the petrie dish of Teabag extremism. This is just the latest example of wingnut leadership. Because after all, what's the problem? The closer the drilling is to shore, the more likely that tourists will get to experience sweet, sweet crude oil up close and personal. Plus, it's educational for the kids! Via Think Progress:
A new federal proposal to allow offshore oil drilling from Virginia to Georgia is receiving some pushback from North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who on Wednesday said drilling should be allowed even closer to his state’s renowned beaches and fishing grounds than is currently being considered.
Testifying before a House of Representatives panel on energy and mineral resources, McCrory first hailed the Obama administration’s offshore drilling plan for the Atlantic as an economic boon. But he then decried the proposal’s inclusion of a 50-mile “buffer zone” — an area where drilling is not allowed to occur — designed to reduce conflicts with other coastal industries like tourism and fishing, and mitigate impacts on coastal wildlife. The buffer zone would extend from Georgia’s southern border to Virginia’s northern limit.
In his testimony, McCrory criticized the buffer zone as putting too much of the offshore resources “under lock and key.” Similarly, in a recently publicized letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, McCrory requested that the protective buffer be shrunk to just 30 miles, to allow drilling to occur 20 miles closer to North Carolina’s beaches than they would be under the Obama administration’s plan.
“North Carolina’s coastal and ocean activities would be undisturbed and the viewshed from any of our 320 miles of ocean beaches and shoreline would remain unobstructed with buffer reduction to 30 miles,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the coastal communities that would be closest to offshore drilling activity in North Carolina are registering a different opinion. The governments of 16 of the state’s coastal cities and towns have passed resolutions opposing offshore oil exploration and development activities, as have the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce and the Dare County, North Carolina, Tourism Board. In March, a federal hearing on Atlantic drilling in Kill Devil Hills drew what a Department of Interior spokeswoman called the largest crowd in the ocean energy agency’s history, the majority of whom opposed offshore oil development.
Emilie Swearingen, a town commissioner from Kure Beach, North Carolina that also testified at Wednesday’s congressional hearing, expressed strong opposition to offshore drilling, and voiced her town’s concerns that an oil spill off their shores would wreck the region’s fishing and tourism-driven economy.
“There is no place for this on the coast of North Carolina,” she said at the hearing.