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Hundreds Expected In Raleigh For Hearing On Offshore Oil And Gas Drilling

Map of the east coast showing the outer continental shelf where drilling would occur.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding an open house in Raleigh Monday afternoon to solicit public feedback on a plan to open up the coast to oil and gas exploration.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinkeannounced a proposal in early January to open up 90 percent of the national outer continental shelf for oil and gas exploration between 2019 and 2024. It also includes selling the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.

By comparison, the current program puts 94 percent of the outer continental shelf off limits to oil and gas exploration.

Bruce Holsten is a business leader in Wilmington, a former oil miner and founder of the advocacy group Save Our Sea. As a leader of multiple coastal chambers of commerce, he spent years studying the economic prospect of drilling for oil off the coast of North Carolina and said it was clearly a losing proposition, financially and environmentally.

“The benefit does not outweigh the actual proven liabilities and harm that could come from a single accident. Not multiple accidents, a single accident. One accident could destroy the coastline on three or four states,” Holsten said.

Citizens groups and environmentalists are planning to bus at least 300 people from coastal communities to the meeting in Raleigh on Monday. Holsten suspects many people will be coming from the Western part of the state as well.

Secretary Zinke said in January the current plan is a starting point, and the Department of the Interior will use public input to shape the final proposal.

"Just like with mining, not all areas are appropriate for offshore drilling, and we will take that into consideration in the coming weeks," Zinke said. "The important thing is we strike the right balance to protect our coasts and people while still powering America and achieving American Energy Dominance."

Monday’s meeting is one of nearly two dozen happening in states around the nation. It will be the only one in North Carolina and will operate like an open house. People can come and go as they please, share information and ask questions of BOEM agents.

The open house takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown.  

BOEM is offering a Virtual Meeting Room where participants can visit the same stations available at the open house meetings.

Credit Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
BOEM map of proposed area for oil and gas exploration in the lower 48 states.

James Morrison is a national award-winning broadcast reporter with more than seven years experience working in radio and podcasts. His work has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now and multiple other radio outlets and podcasts. His reporting focuses on environmental and health issues, with a focus on the opioid epidemic and sustainable food systems. He was recognized with a national award for a story he reported for NPR on locally-sourced oyster farming. He also received a national award for his daily news coverage of firefighters killed in the line of duty. A podcast he produced about the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War was accepted into the Hearsay International Audio Arts Festival.
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