Majority of North Carolinians Say No to Coastal Drilling

Cape Hattaras National Sea Shore

Credit: National Park Service

Just last week the State of North Carolina joined the tidal wave of national opposition to expanded offshore drilling that has continued to mount in the wake of the Trump administration’s attempts to scrap the just-finalized offshore leasing plan, roll back a host of worker and environmental safety standards, and jettison protections for our most sensitive, unspoiled public waters.

A survey of North Carolinians released today confirms that the public fully supports protection of these public waters over selling them off to private oil conglomerates. The clear majority of residents are acutely aware of the hazards to their economy, health, and quality of life that would come if drilling returns to the Atlantic Coast for the first time in over 30 years.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 7 out of 10 North Carolinians reject the federal government’s plan to begin offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina.
     
  • 72 percent of respondents are concerned about the risk of an oil spill, citing impacts to the tourism industry, potential job loss for themselves (or a loved one), and housing prices.
     
  • North Carolinians, especially those from coastal areas, perceive a host of harms from expanded drilling, including contaminated drinking water supplies (74 percent); release of chemicals dangerous to human health (74 percent); harm to wildlife and wildlife habitats (72 percent); oil spills (70 percent); potential lost jobs and reduced home values (69 percent); and diverting investment away from clean energy (67 percent).
     
  • More than twice as many North Carolina residents believe investment in clean energy—like wind and solar—is the wiser choice than offshore drilling of their coasts or anywhere in the Atlantic.

     
  • Women, African-Americans, and youth are particularly concerned with the prospect of offshore drilling in public waters, with young people (18-29) consistently expressing the strongest views against exposing the region to new drilling.
     
  • Opposition to drilling crosses partisan divides, with not a single segment of the population expressing majority support.

These findings leave not a shadow of a doubt that North Carolinians want to keep drill rigs and oil spills off their coasts and beaches. They are also consistent with the outpouring of support for protection over drilling that ultimately led the Federal Government to put in place protections for these vibrant waters less than six months ago.

Instead of reversing course, it is time for our public officials of all stripes to respect public opinion on how it wants its public oceans managed. These waters belong to you and me, not the fossil fuel industry.   

About the Authors

Franz Matzner

Deputy Director, Federal Campaigns, Center for Policy Advocacy

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