N.C. Attorney General: Lawsuit against White House over offshore seismic testing to continue

[BOEM photo.]

Despite the withdrawal by one company of an application to conduct seismic testing offshore for oil and natural gas, North Carolina’s Attorney General said he will continue with a lawsuit against the Trump Administration lifting a moratorium on drilling off the coast.

WesternGeco, LLC. sent a letter to federal officials on September 4, withdrawing their application submitted in 2014.

“I am pleased by WesternGeco’s decision and urge the Trump Administration to stop its headlong rush to put oil rigs off North Carolina’s beautiful shores,” said state Attorney General Josh Stein in a statement released Monday.

President Trump said last week he will re-institute the drilling moratorium for the outer continental shelf off Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but left out North Carolina.

“In 2018, I sued the Trump Administration about its efforts to open the eastern seaboard to offshore drilling in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina,” Stein said. “I commend the district court for asking the Trump Administration this week to explain how the President’s memorandum of Sept. 8 affects the Administration’s plans for pre-drilling seismic testing on the East Coast.”

“The President wrongly and without basis leaves North Carolina exposed to offshore drilling while protecting Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia,” said Stein.

“North Carolina’s natural resources aren’t just beautiful – they’re also an economic engine for our state. And North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: we do not want drilling off our coast any more than Floridians, Georgians, or South Carolinians do,” said Stein.

North Carolina, along with eight other states, sued U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for issuing “Incidental Harm Authorizations” to the remaining four companies still seeking to engage in seismic testing and exploration off the southeast coast.

Those authorizations are prerequisites to seismic testing and drilling, and the case case is pending in U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

In addition, North Carolina appealed a Trump Administration decision that overruled North Carolina’s objection to WesternGeco’s plans to conduct seismic testing off North Carolina’s coast.

While WesternGeco withdrew its application shortly after the lawsuit was filed, North Carolina continues to litigate this case challenging the federal government’s efforts to override North Carolina’s ability to manage and protect its own coastal resources.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]