Seismic testing and the potential for offshore drilling has galvanized strong opposition in Kure Beach. Earlier this year, Mayor Dean Lambeth ignited controversy after he sent a letter in support of seismic testing to the Federal agency overseeing offshore oil exploration. Hundreds of opponents showed up to protest at the next Kure Beach Town meeting in January.
During the first CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015 earlier this week, it became clear that the four candidates in Kure Beach are as divided as ever on the issue.
Nearly nine months after that contentious January meeting, beach communities from New Jersey to Florida have passed resolutions against such offshore activities.
Mayor Dean Lambeth says he thinks people are reacting emotionally to seismic testing without regard for the science.
"I have a statement that, to date, there has been no documented evidence that noise from air guns used in geological or geophysical seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities. Now, that is from William Y. Brown who is the Chief Environmental Officer for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. And I think Emilie, along with a lot of other people, have drank the Kool-Aid to the point that they don’t want to see the facts. They just want to be heard."
The “Emilie” he refers to is Emilie Swearingen, a current Town Commissioner who is challenging Dean Lambeth in his mayoral bid this election. Swearingen made national news earlier this year when she was invited to speak on Capitol Hill.
"I was able to speak at a Congressional hearing in Washington in 2014, and this past spring, I was invited as the only person in the country to speak before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in opposition to seismic testing and offshore oil. I have continued to work with Oceana and Surfrider to keep these issues before the public by speaking out and by making educational videos."
In the race for Kure Beach Town Council, two candidates are running unopposed for the two open seats. For the record, Incumbent David Heglar says he doesn’t think municipalities should get involved – as it’s entirely an issue for the state and federal governments. First-time Town Council candidate Joseph Whitley says it’s his opposition to seismic testing that spurred him to run for office.
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