Energy & Environment

Trump to include North Carolina in offshore drilling moratorium, senator says

Greg Nash

North Carolina will be added to President Trump’s moratorium preventing oil and gas drilling off its coast until mid 2032, joining Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said Monday. 

“This morning, I spoke with President Trump and I asked him to extend the offshore drilling moratorium to North Carolina. I’m pleased to announce that the president will be doing just that,” Tillis said in a video posted to YouTube

“Our coastal communities and our tourism are vital to our state’s economy, and I’m thankful to President Trump,” added Tillis, who is facing a tough reelection fight this November. 

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on whether North Carolina would be added to the moratorium, which Trump originally announced while speaking in Florida this month. 

At the time, he signed a presidential order barring drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina until June 2032, 10 years longer than a congressional moratorium that halts drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

The move was largely seen as a political one, as offshore drilling is unpopular in the crucial swing state of Florida after it faced significant economic impacts from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. 

A 2018 state amendment to block offshore drilling was also approved by nearly 70 percent of Florida voters.

On other issues the Trump administration has repeatedly sought to boost the oil and gas industry, which criticized his announcement of the drilling pause this month. 

Like Florida, North Carolina is also an important swing state, where not only Trump, but also Tillis, will have to battle for reelection this year. The Cook Political Report, an election forecaster, has rated Tillis’s race as a “toss up.”

Tillis has previously supported offshore drilling.

“Offshore leasing benefits the economies of all the states, helps reduce the federal deficit, provides affordable energy to families and businesses, and strengthens our national security,” he wrote in 2017.

In 2015, he also introduced an amendment aiming to advance offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Carolinas are among 10 East Coast states that have sued in an attempt to prevent offshore oil and gas drilling, but Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have not received any similar offshore promises from Trump.

Oceana Action, the advocacy arm of ocean conservation group Oceana, praised the announcement, but also said that other states should receive the same protections. 

“What President Trump deems good enough for Florida and North Carolina should be good enough for all of our coasts’ economies,” said a statement from the group’s campaign director Diane Hoskins.

Tags Donald Trump North Carolina Offshore drilling Thom Tillis

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