CARTERET COUNTY — An international nonprofit dedicated to protecting the ocean is asking business owners to join its new coalition to protect the coastal environment.
Oceana held an online national business coalition roundtable Tuesday afternoon via Zoom. Participants included Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and Carteret County Chamber of Commerce President and Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast President Tom Kies.
Oceana took the opportunity at Tuesday’s roundtable to announce the creation of the National Business Coalition for the Oceans, meant promote policies to restore and maintain ocean abundance and biodiversity. Oceana representative Beth Lowell announced the launch of this new coalition.
“I strongly encourage participants to join their regional business alliance,” Ms. Lowell said. “We’re all stronger together.”
More information on the coalition, as well as registration, is available online at oceana.org/BusinessCoalition.
The roundtable was held to hear from various business and government leaders from around the country on opposition to offshore drilling and promoting alternative energy sources.
Oceana representative Nancy Downes said offshore drilling is a “lose-lose situation.” The participants in Tuesday’s roundtable agreed drilling and offshore exploration, such as seismic surveys, can result in severe damage to the environment and the economy.
“Eastern North Carolina is politically conservative,” Mayor Newton said, “but there’s been strong bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling…even the exploration can be damaging.”
Several participants cited the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an example of offshore drilling’s potential ramifications. Additionally, Mayor Newton referred to the practice of seismic surveying, where ships use air guns to locate oil and gas deposits with seismic blasts environmentalists have said can injure and drive away marine life.
Many coastal economies rely on healthy environments, to aid things like tourism. Mr. Kies said Carteret County has good tourism “because we have clean water and beaches.”
“Our coastal economy represents 1.75 million jobs,” Mr. Kies said. “All of that’s reliant on clean water and clean beaches. This is a bipartisan concern. We’ve already achieved energy independence with our vibrant energy sources…an incident like Deepwater Horizon off the Atlantic coast would be devastating.”
Pursuing renewable energy in place of fossil fuels is a priority for President Joseph Biden’s administration, according to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Advisor Marissa Knodel. Ms. Knodel, who was present at the roundtable, said under the Biden administration, the bureau plans to advance offshore leasing for renewable energy projects, such as wind turbines, by 2025.
Federal legislators on the East and West coasts are in favor of stopping offshore drilling. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a prepared recording played during the roundtable he’ll continue to pursue safeguards against threats to the coastal environment and economy.
“The Trump Administration tried to extract every drop of oil off the Atlantic coast,” Sen. Markey said. “There’s no such thing as immaculate extraction.”
On the West Coast, U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., said nobody in his district – California’s 49th congressional district – is in favor of offshore drilling.
“I think we’re all in this together as we oppose offshore drilling,” Rep. Levin said.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.