Notes from the BOEM Public Meeting on the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Yesterday, February 17, 2015, our Coastal Ecologist, Courtney Spears, traveled to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management’s (BOEM) public meeting detailing the scoping process for the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. Here are her notes from that meeting:

As part of the federal review process, BOEM is asking stakeholders to help identify areas or issues of concern for evaluation.  This public meeting, along with 19 others along the Eastern seaboard, was aimed at providing information to the public through an open house style information session. Participants were provided with information including background on the federal scoping process, a map of the leasing areas being considered, resources and impacts of offshore drilling and detailed information on how to submit useful comments (detailed pdfs provided by BOEM can be found here). BOEM representatives were available to answer questions and provide additional information to participants.

During BOEM’s public meeting, environmental groups opposed to drilling, held a press conference in an adjacent meeting room. Concerns raised by the groups focused on potential impacts to tourism, public health, concern for coastal habitat health, and the danger of an oil spill and its impacts to coastal NC. Attendees were provided with detailed information on how to submit meaningful comments including advice to speak from the heart, identify personal credentials, cite facts and expert opinions, and provide data that may not be publicly available.

As a community based organization, BHI Conservancy is committed to providing facts to property owners and stakeholders as this issue develops. Although there are environmental risks for offshore oil and gas exploration that have been well documented and safety measures to mitigate those risks, the unique economic, social and cultural impacts on the NC coast should also be considered (for links to environmental impacts see our website).

An economic analysis is an important part of the assessment of this low probability, high-risk activity off the NC Coastline.  North Carolina’s coastal economy is heavily influenced by the tourism industry. Tourism in the 20 coastal counties supported over 32,190 jobs and had an economic impact of $3.03 billion (US Travel Assoc. 2013). Tourism to Brunswick County alone supported 5,030 jobs and had an economic impact of $470.58 million (US Travel Assoc 2013). In 2013, economist Dr. Mike Walden of North Carolina State University estimated offshore energy exploration off the North Carolina coast would produce 1,122 jobs and $181 million in annual income for the state during the first seven years of production (Gov. Pat McCrory 2014). The annual income produced by oil and gas could be based on the amount of revenue sharing between the oil lessees and the state of NC. While these funds may go to coastal management issues such as beach renourishment and inlet management, there is currently no regulatory framework to determine how funds would be distributed. There is also great uncertainty in the potential oil and gas resources, including amount, location, and accessibility.

BHI Conservancy will continue to update our website with informational resources, current media coverage of this and future events, and facts regarding offshore drilling and the scoping process that may directly impact BHI property owners. Please feel free to contact us for any questions or concerns, or post your thoughts on the issues via our social media outlets.

Citations

US Travel Association. 2013. The economic impact of tourism in North Carolina. 

Governor Pat McCrory. Press Release: Governor Pat McCrory Applauds Movement Toward Offshore Seismic Testing for Oil and Gas. 2014. 

Meeting Hand Outs

Resources to Consider Fact Sheet (pdf)

Guide to Providing Comments Fact Sheet (pdf)

Programmic Environment Impact Statement Hand Out (pdf)

 
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