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Attorney General Josh Stein on Recent Offshore Drilling Developments

For Immediate Release:
Friday, September 11, 2020

Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today released the following statement about news that WesternGeco has withdrawn its application to conduct underwater seismic testing for the oil and gas industries off the coast of North Carolina and that the U.S. District Court in South Carolina has asked the Trump Administration to explain its recent announcement on the offshore drilling moratorium.

“Just days after I filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce about its override of North Carolina’s denial of a permit to WesternGeco to conduct harmful underwater seismic testing off the coast of North Carolina, WesternGeco has withdrawn its application. I am pleased by WesternGeco’s decision and urge the Trump Administration to stop its headlong rush to put oil rigs off North Carolina’s beautiful shores.

“In 2018, I sued the Trump Administration about its efforts to open the eastern seaboard to offshore drilling in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina. I commend the district court for asking the Trump Administration this week to explain how the President’s memorandum of Sept. 8 affects the Administration’s plans for pre-drilling seismic testing on the East Coast. The President wrongly and without basis leaves North Carolina exposed to offshore drilling while protecting Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. North Carolina’s natural resources aren’t just beautiful – they’re also an economic engine for our state. And North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: we do not want drilling off our coast any more than Floridians, Georgians, or South Carolinians do. I will continue this fight to protect our natural resources.”

North Carolina, along with eight other states, has sued Secretary Wilbur Ross for issuing “Incidental Harm Authorizations” to the remaining four companies still seeking to engage in seismic testing and exploration off our coast. Those authorizations are prerequisites to seismic testing and drilling. This case is pending in U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

In addition, North Carolina appealed a Trump Administration decision that overruled North Carolina’s objection to WesternGeco’s plans to conduct seismic testing off North Carolina’s coast. While WesternGeco withdrew its application shortly after the lawsuit was filed, North Carolina continues to litigate this case challenging the federal government’s efforts to override North Carolina’s ability to manage and protect its own coastal resources.


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