Federal authorities will welcome the public to an open house tonight in Wilmington on a plan to open the North Carolina coast to offshore oil exploration.
The Obama Administration’s five-year plan for oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean, released last month, was derided by environmental groups for going too far and criticized by Republicans for not going far enough.
“If you want to continue to create jobs, we’d better – in the United States, North Carolina included – participate in our energy independence,” said Governor Pat McCrory.
McCrory is the co-chair of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, which has lobbied the Obama Administration to open up the coast to drilling.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is hosting the event in Wilmington. As of now, it’s the only meeting scheduled in North Carolina.
“Today is the first opportunity for North Carolinians to see the plan, but also to voice their opinion,” said Zachary Keith, lead organizer with the North Carolina Sierra Club.
Environmental groups are planning to hand out literature and offer additional information to attendees. It’s one of the first steps in what promises to be a long fight over offshore oil exploration.
“You go out to the coastal towns in North Carolina, and most of them are based on tourism,” says Keith. “They have economies that are based on a clean and healthy environment and offshore and onshore development and infrastructure could drastically change that.”