Trump Extends Offshore Drilling Ban for North Carolina and Virginia

virginia offshore ban
The tourism-dependent community of Dare County, North Carolina has opposed offshore drilling due to perceived risk of pollution (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 09-27-2020 11:51:15

President Donald Trump said Friday that he would extend the federal offshore drilling moratorium for coastal waters off Virginia and North Carolina, paralleling his recent decision for the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. He left the door open for rescinding the decision later if desired. 

“About a month a go, I signed an order prohibiting offshore drilling off the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts - because I happen to like this state a lot, I said ‘What about Virginia, what about North Carolina?’ Somebody said ‘I don’t know if they’ll like it’ and I said ‘I know they’d like it,'” Trump said at a campaign event Friday. “So I am extending the moratorium for North Carolina and Virginia. If you want oil rigs out there, just let me know, I’ll take it off. I can understand that too.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) previewed the news early last week, announcing Monday that North Carolina would be covered by the same drilling moratorium as the U.S. Southeast. “Our coastal communities and our tourism are vital to our state’s economy, and I’m thankful to President Trump," Sen. Tillis said in a video statement. 

Sen. Tillis is in the midst of a closely-fought reelection campaign, and his challenger noted that Tillis has not historically supported a ban. "In his maiden speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate - a speech most Senators use to introduce their top priorities for their first term in office - Tillis called for offshore drilling in North Carolina," said the campaign for Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham.

The United States' primary oil and gas industry association, the American Petroleum Institute, warned again that the administration's ban extensions would damage the economy. 

“This is another move in the wrong direction for American energy security and takes thousands of new jobs and critical revenue for states off the table at a time when the economy is struggling,” API Vice President of Upstream Policy Lem Smith said. “In the long run, the world is going to demand more energy, not less, and we can choose to create more of that energy here in the United States by safely developing offshore resources or rely more on foreign energy sources. We’re disappointed the administration has taken this action instead of seizing the opportunity to grow and sustain American energy leadership.”