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Brunswick County Changes Stance On Offshore Drilling

Brunswick County commissioners Tuesday night reversed a vote they took in 2015 concerning offshore drilling and testing. The vote was three – to – two, with board chair Frank Williams casting the deciding vote.  A large crowd was on hand at the county complex in Bolivia to let their feelings be known.

“Two, Four, Six, Eight, No drilling in our state. Two, Four, Six, Eight, No drilling in our state...”

Before the commissioner’s meeting, well over a hundred opponents of drilling met in the parking lot.

“Folks, we are here to right a wrong, that was made in this building a little over two years ag…”

Two years ago, county commissioners voted to support seismic testing and drilling off the North Carolina coast. Organizations like BEAT - Brunswick Environmental Action Team - and Oceana have been battling ever since.

“Seismic testing emits sound waves in the range of 200 to 240 decibels.”

That’s Dr. Kristen Colleran, a veterinarian in Brunswick County. She says 240 decibels is louder than a jet airliner flying 100 feet above your head.

“So you’re talking about producing sound waves that are cruel and tortuous. Obviously that is going to disturb migrations, disturb feedings, it disturbs plankton formation, it can kill animals.”

In a surprise move, the board voted. Mike Forte is a Brunswick County Commissioner.

“We rescinded the 2015 resolution, in favor of seismic testing and drilling. What we did is we are now neutral – we are neither pro nor con, we have no stance.”

The commissioners explained that this is largely a federal issue, and that their resolution alone does not hold much weight.

The move leaves Carteret County as the only government in coastal North Carolina to support offshore drilling and exploration. Most local governments along the Atlantic have passed resolutions in opposition.

How to submit a comment

The Department of the Interior is collecting public comment for its National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024. If you want to submit a comment, you can:

Attend a public hearing at the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown, 3415 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Feb. 26.