Dorian exposes drilling dangers
Thursday, September 5, 2019
With Hurricane Dorian upon us this week, everyone is preparing to batten down the hatches in anticipation of the coming storm. As eastern North Carolina still reels from the destruction caused by Hurricanes Florence and Michael last fall, people across the region are getting ready for the worst.
However, Dorian is a harbinger of further coastal degradation in more ways than one. Last year, the U.S. Department of the Interior released a draft proposal that would open our coast to offshore drilling for oil and gas. Drilling will not only threaten the way of life of our coastal communities and the wildlife they live in harmony with, but also endanger the recreation industry that brings in valuable tourism revenue for the state every year. And this threat is punctuated by every hurricane season we endure.
In a report published by the Southern Environmental Law Center last fall, evidence shows that drilling infrastructure in hurricane prone regions is highly susceptible to damage by high speed winds and turbulent ocean patterns. As a result, entire platforms sank, and pollution swept up in the storms made its way inland, leaking dangerous chemicals into the surrounding land. For decades, our coastline has been protected by federal policy to prevent offshore drilling, but that might not last.
North Carolina currently has two open seats in Congress, and the special elections are well underway as early voting started on Aug. 21. North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District includes all of our state’s coastline, with the exception of Wilmington and its southern neighbors. Previously represented by the late-Congressman Walter Jones who was well-known for his opposition to drilling off our coast, we can only hope (and vote) that his successor will share his sentiments to defend our coastal communities from the dangers of drilling.
Duval is an Impact Organizer with Environment North Carolina.