Cooper Suggests Lawsuit Against Trump Administration, Commissioners Pass Anti-Drilling Resolution

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The Sierra Club today cheered Gov. Roy Cooper’s pledge to sue the federal government if North Carolina is not removed from the Trump administration’s proposed offshore drilling plan.

Cooper’s remarks at a news conference in Wrightsville Beach came in response to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s announcement that he would remove Florida from the 2019-2024 offshore drilling plan because of the potential harm to that state’s tourism economy.

North Carolina’s coastal economies likewise depend heavily on tourism, Cooper said, and Zinke’s rationale is an admission that offshore drilling poses the same danger for those communities. If North Carolina remains in the drilling plan, “we’ll take you to court,” Cooper said.

The news conference occurred shortly after the New Hanover County Commission added its official voice to the chorus of offshore drilling opponents, passing a resolution that puts it in the company of more than 30 other local N.C. governments that have condemned oil and gas drilling off our coastline.

Commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning in favor of the resolution. Previously, New Hanover County had not taken a position on offshore drilling.

Cooper, along with most East Coast governors, opposes the Trump administration’s desire to open the Atlantic seaboard to oil and gas exploration in the federal government’s 2019-2024 offshore drilling plan, which would reverse a 2016 decision by the Obama administration.

Cooper joined six other East Coast governors last week in signing a bipartisan letter to Zinke that stated their opposition to drilling off the Atlantic coastline.

Erin Carey, coastal conservation programs coordinator for the North Carolina Sierra Club, made this statement in response to Cooper’s remarks and the commission’s vote:

“The voices of opposition are gaining in strength and number every day. North Carolinians are pushing back on offshore drilling, saying clearly and repeatedly, ‘Not off our coast!’ Those who cherish and rely on the coast know the danger offshore drilling poses to the environment, tourism and commercial fishing.”

Andy McGlinn, chair of the New Hanover-based Cape Fear Group of the Sierra Club, which has nearly 5,000 members and supporters, added:

“We are grateful to Governor Cooper for his strong leadership in this fight, and we commend the New Hanover County Commission for taking this important step. Sierrans have long wanted New Hanover County to join the majority of communities on our coast in opposing offshore drilling, and we’re glad to have their voices added to ours.”