The push by the Trump administration for oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast began with Trump’s bombastic rhetoric and anything-but-Obama themes in his campaign and in the early months of his presidency.

Hence the president’s executive order in the spring that called for opening federal coastal waters to oil and gas leasing. That search would begin with seismic testing, the results of which are not precisely known – but about which enough is known to make it a very bad idea. The testing, and the drilling should exploration proceed, could put coastal marine life in danger. And that’s in addition to the risk of spills, etc., with exploration.

And here’s the truly ludicrous thing about the argument for exploration: oil prices are depressed (excluding the post-hurricane situation) and there are plenty of reserves. In addition, onshore shale extraction is a much lower-cost endeavor than offshore projects.

That’s why a bipartisan group of business leaders, members of Congress and in particular elected leaders on the East Coast have stepped up efforts to change the mind of the Department of the Interior to allow exploration and then drilling to proceed.

These leaders recognize that the alleged boom in jobs and economic development that could result – but by no means are guaranteed to result – from oil and gas exploration on the East Coast hardly are worth the potential damage that could be done.

One environmental disaster in the form of some giant oil spill could wound, and seriously so, North Carolina’s economy on its cherished coast forever. Millions and millions and … yes, millions of dollars in annual tourism income in “Variety Vacationland” could be in jeopardy, along with the fishing/seafood industry. In addition, some kind of environmental catastrophe could even, theoretically, render parts of the coast uninhabitable.

The benefits of oil and gas exploration – hardly a certainty, by the way – are nowhere near worth the risk, particularly when the nation is not in some kind of desperate need for the resources such exploration might deliver.

U.S. Rep. David Rouzer of North Carolina’s 7th (coastal) District supports offshore exploration, reckoning it in a statement to something that can be done “in a safe and environmentally sensitive way.” But Rouzer’s mates from coastal states, some of them anyway, appear to be getting a little nervous about the risks in offshore drilling, for example.

Offshore exploration has always smacked of being a purely political issue for President Trump, who never bothers much with details. But for North Carolinians and residents of other East Coast states, the details couldn’t be more important. And they’re troubling enough to warrant a fallback from the president before exploration does damage that cannot be undone.

— from the News & Observer of Raleigh.


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