By Rob Schofield, NC POLICY WATCH
Plans to expand drilling off the coast of North Carolina could have significant negative impacts onshore, according to a new report released by Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center. From pipelines running through sensitive coastal habitats to air pollution released by oil refineries, “Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage: Broken Pipelines, Dirty Refineries and the Pollution Impacts of Energy Infrastructure” highlights how onshore industrial infrastructure created for offshore drilling damages our environment in a variety of ways….
According to the report, pipelines running from offshore rigs to inland processing facilities can degrade estuaries’ water quality and risk spilling oil across our beloved beaches. In addition, toxic waste brought onshore from drilling operations can pollute drinking water and tracts of land. Beyond those issues, air pollution from oil refineries can threaten local residents’ health.
The study shows that these problems could only get worse. Expanding offshore drilling, as the Department of the Interior proposed last year, could lead to additional infrastructure pollution in previously pristine coastal areas, where communities have long been able to avoid this type of industrialization….
“[Oil companies] must undertake a proper impact assessment in order to really avoid the most sensitive receptors, taking into account for example, commercial fishing areas, coastal tourism, reefs, right whale migration routes and shipwrecks,” says Dr. Joni Backstrom of UNC Wilmington.
“The North Carolina coast, along with Florida and Louisiana, are the three most impacted coastlines for storm occurrences in the U.S. Though platforms are designed to resist storm impacts, there have certainly been issues with platforms, pipelines, and onshore storage facilities. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 led to spills of over 11 million gallons,” says Professor Roger Shew (also of UNCW), “And with somewhat increasing storm intensities, such as seen with Dorian and Michael, we should be aware of the possibilities of damages associated with these types of storms.”
In January 2018, the Trump administration released a plan to open more than 90 percent of America’s oceans to oil & gas drilling, including off North Carolina’s coast. The plan is an unprecedented expansion of offshore drilling and faces stiff opposition, including from every governor along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
“Whether it causes oil spills off our coast or pollution on our shores, offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous,” said Duvall, “We don’t want drilling off our coast, now or ever.”
Click here to explore the report.
Rob Schofield, Director of NC Policy Watch, has three decades of experience as a lawyer, lobbyist, writer and commentator. At Policy Watch, Rob writes and edits daily online commentaries and handles numerous public speaking and electronic media appearances. He also delivers a radio commentary that’s broadcast weekdays on WRAL-FM and WCHL and hosts News and Views, a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.