Council Member Swearingen Addresses Committee On Off Shore Oil

Council Member Swearingen Addresses Committee On Off Shore Oil Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 22 April 2015 04:00

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Kure Beach Council member Emilie Swearingen addressed the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources during a hearing on April 15th, in Washington, D.C. to address the issue of future off shore drilling for oil and natural gas exploration.
Swearingen and others including North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory addressed the subcommittee with varying view points on the issue.
The Obama Administration has been following a slow but detailed process of ultimately allowing drilling for oil and gas off the east coast. The current plan would restrict drilling to at least 50 miles offshore.
The hearing focused on the current Draft Proposed Plan for 2017-2022, published by the Administration in January. In its current form, this plan is nearly identical to the 2012-2017 plan – with most of the sales taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, and three in the Arctic. The main difference is the potential inclusion of a Mid/South-Atlantic lease sale, as well as the inclusion of a 50-mile buffer zone for the Atlantic areas and a 25-mile buffer zone for Arctic sale areas.
Governor McCrory explained, "Many coastal elected officials have voiced their support for offshore energy development, including Mayor Dean Lamberth of Kure Beach, who sent a letter to the BOEM in support of opening the Atlantic OCS to oil and gas development. Coastal residents recognize the job creation and economic benefits offshore energy development would bring to the area, as well as potential revenue for beach re-nourishment and infrastructure needs."
He explained, "Coastal communities need revenue to offset potential impacts of offshore oil and gas activities and accommodate infrastructure demands such as beach nourishment, dredging, port expansion, road improvements, schools and environmental restoration. Revenue sharing is vital to address the related expenses that states and coastal communities assume with oil and gas exploration, drilling and production. It is incumbent upon me to take the costs and benefits into account when considering whether to support offshore activity in North Carolina. Considering these facts, North Carolina will not support offshore energy development without revenue sharing."
Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth commented last year that he supports offshore drilling for oil and gas and the industry would help grow the local economy and help generate revenues for coastal towns to help fund projects such as beach nourishment.
McCrory commented April 15th, "The 50-mile buffer zone imposed for the Mid and South Atlantic planning
areas in Option One of the Draft Proposed Plan (DPP) unnecessarily puts much of North Carolina’s most accessible undiscovered resources under lock and key" and, "Several geologic structures with oil and gas potential are located within the coastal buffer of North Carolina, particularly off the Outer Banks. Based on historical seismic data, strict application of the 50-mile buffer could place as much as 40% of North Carolina’s potential offshore resources out of play, including the promising Manteo Prospect located approximately 40 miles off the shoreline."
Swearingen explained to the subcommittee, "I am NOT here today to speak on behalf of our Town Council, but rather on behalf of the residents of Kure Beach, our tourists, our fishermen, our seafood industry and small businesses, and everyone in this country who cares about the future
of our coastal communities and our quality of life. Most of you have probably never been to Kure Beach. About a half-dozen residents occasionally show up for our monthly Council meetings; but on January 27, 2014, more than 300 showed up to protest our mayor’s position in support of seismic testing and East Coast drilling. That night Kure Beach became ground zero for these issues. Since that night, the opposition has been mounting up and down the coast."
She explained, "More than 300 national, state and local elected officials have taken a public stance against seismic testing and offshore drilling, including more than 50 coastal towns that passed resolutions in opposition or voicing their concern. Copies of the letters and resolutions can be found in Oceana’s grassroots “Coastal Resolution Toolkit.”"
She explained, "You know those public meetings the Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) held over the past few months. Attendance on the east coast exceeded 1,800. North Carolina, of course, had the highest attendance! In addition, more than half a million citizens in this country have submitted comments directly to BOEM opposing the inclusion of the Atlantic and Arctic in the Five Year Plan."
Swearingen explained, "Our two little towns on Pleasure Island, Kure and Carolina Beaches, generate more than $124 million a year in beach expenditures. Direct seafood processing and packing on our little island generate almost $5 million; and our for-hire fisheries generate almost $6 million. Tourism is the largest industry in our county and one of the largest industries in the state."
She spoke about the Gulf of Mexico explaining, "I understand the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster killed or injured more than 25,000 dolphins and whales in the Gulf, plus tens of thousands of sea turtles. It also killed blackfin and bluefin tuna, blue marlin, mahi-mahi, sailfish, red snapper; and killed at least 700,000 birds. More than 100 species were affected, including one-third of all laughing gulls in the Gulf region and 12 percent of the Gulf’s brown pelicans, which had just been removed from the endangered species list."
She explained, "Citizens living and working on our coasts have a right to decide for themselves if they want to allow drilling off their shores. Please… listen to the people in this country who are begging you not to destroy their quality of life."


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