Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper called President Trump out for playing politics in his decision to put the brakes on oil drilling off the Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts — but not North Carolina’s or Virginia’s. He specifically asked the president to include our state in his previously announced moratorium for those states (PDF).
“I am deeply concerned and disappointed that you did not include North Carolina in the moratorium,” Cooper wrote. “Offshore drilling threatens North Carolina’s coastal economy and environment and offers our state minimal economic benefit. Accepted science tells us that there is little, if any, oil worth drilling for off North Carolina’s coast, and the risks of offshore drilling far outweigh the benefits.”
Gov. Cooper may be too diplomatic to point this out, but we can be more blunt: Trump’s decision to stop the drilling moratorium at the North Carolina state line carries the stench of partisan politics winning out over the public interest. The two officials are at odds over the future direction of environmental and health-related policies far more broadly, and Trump has repeatedly used the powers of the federal bureaucracy for personal political advantage.
Today, September 21st, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis announced that President Trump assured him he would extend the moratorium to North Carolina’s coast. There is no sign yet that that has been done. After years of both men supporting offshore drilling and resisting widespread, bipartisan calls to protect our coast, this is a clear election-year hail mary, bowing to public pressure in a bid to save both of their seats. But that is not enough to ensure real protection of our air and water. Our long-term environmental future will require the election of pro-environment candidates at every level in November.