McCrory, other governors press for seismic testing off coastlines

02/24/2014 2:48 PM

02/24/2014 2:49 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory and the governors of Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to press for oil and gas exploration off the coast.

McCrory said the group, which also included officials representing Alaska, Louisiana and Texas, discussed seismic testing, the potential for federal-state revenue sharing and what areas might be included in the next federal leasing plan, for 2017-22.

The Obama administration must decide whether to end a two-decade moratorium and open up the Atlantic for drilling.

“As governors we have a sense of urgency because we think it will first create new jobs, which are desperately needed, especially in the rural areas along our coasts, and we also want to participate in the country’s energy independence. We also think, especially with gas, there’s a potential to bring new industry closer to areas of our coast,” McCrory told reporters after the meeting in Washington.

McCrory was in the capital for the National Governor’s Association meeting, which was wrapping up on Monday.

The coastal governors want a system of revenue sharing for any oil and gas discovered in federal waters off their states, McCrory said.

He also said he expected that the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf would be finished and released soon. Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to have the PEIS out by Friday, spokeswoman Connie Gillette said on Monday.

The study looks at what seismic testing with air guns would do to whales, dolphins and fish, including the roughly 400 endangered right whales that still exist along the Atlantic coast.

“We want to find out exactly what’s out there, but we also want to do it in an environmentally sound way to protect the wildlife in that area, the mammals in that area,” McCrory said.

“We’re very optimistic about the movement that’s occurring from within the administration.”

Tests off the Outer Banks could be part of the plan.

“I don’t have the specific areas but I anticipate,” McCrory said, when asked if that part of the state’s coast would be included. “We think there are areas of great potential based on discussions with people in the industry. We’ve looked at potential areas off the coast and it’s pretty varied, up and down the North Carolina coast, Virginia and South Carolina coasts.”

He said he also discussed the potential for offshore wind energy with Jewell. “We’re very pleased with some recent progress on offshore wind capability, too,” he said.

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