Rally and Speaking to Brunswick County Commissioners to Express Opposition to Offshore Drilling on March 19, 2018
On Monday, March 19th, members of BEAT and the general public rallied before the monthly meeting of the Brunswick County Commissioners to express their continuing opposition to seismic blasting and offshore drilling. Energy was high as this was the meeting at which the commissioners had designated to select their position on seismic blasting and offshore drilling. At the meeting, they decided neither to support nor oppose but rather to take no position. One of the commissioners (Randy Thompson) affirmed his opposition to drilling and made a motion to oppose. Two of the commissioners (Marty Cooke and Pat Sykes) affirmed their support for drilling. Cooke made a motion to remove the issue from the agenda, which meant that the Commission would stay with the "no position" position it took in January.
Chairperson Frank Williams said he supported Cooke's motion, but he would vote against Thompson's motion if the issue actually came to a vote. Given the intractability of Cooke and Sykes, that essentially ended any hope that Brunswick County would join with East Coast communities, governors, senators, representatives, businesses, fishing groups, tourist boards, and public opinion in opposing offshore drilling.
Even though the issue had been dispensed with, individuals made comments to the commissioners in the designated section of the meeting. The 6 pro-drilling speakers (half from outside Brunswick County) offered some very interesting analysis (environmentalists are the same people who oppose school prayer, environmentalists have been convinced by Russian social media to oppose offshore drilling, there is no documented harm from seismic blasting, a majority of the public supports offshore drilling, our taxes and gas prices will go down if we offshore drill). These are among the arguments actually made. They range from the totally debunked and untrue to the bizarre.
Those opposed to offshore drilling made arguments that are consistent with scientific research and consistent with the type of evidence commissioners have sought in the past. For example, Commissioner Sykes once proclaimed we ought to give more voice to our individual communities and citizens. So the Commission was presented with resolutions opposing offshore drilling from all 13 (of the 19 total) BC communities that have considered the issue. Impressive presentations were made on the continuing dangers of drilling and drill platforms, the importance of listening to coastal constituents, and the importance of what we leave for future generations. We are proud of these arguments.
BEAT and all of the groups and individuals who recognize that potential harm from seismic blasting and offshore drilling overwhelms the paltry possible benefits have expressed determination not to let this issue disappear. As coastal communities all up and down the Eastern seaboard have proclaimed, the risk to our communities is too great to look the other way.