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Seismic testing may soon happen off of NC coasts

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TWC News: Seismic testing may soon happen off of NC coasts
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RALEIGH- The report from the Office of the Governor to the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy highlighted that North Carolina's coasts could soon see seismic testing.

“We feel it is finally a very positive step the DOI (Department of the Interior) has taken in so far as allowing us to take the next step toward developing the offshore resources,” says Donald R. van der Vaart, DENR's Energy Policy Director.

This announcement comes after the US Department of the Interior said that some seismic testing to map potential oil and natural gas fields could happen under certain circumstances in the mid and south Atlantic.

But here in North Carolina, coastal lawmakers say they want more details.

“I've got constituents in New Hanover County that are very concerned about the impact on marine health and safety,” says Rep. Rick Catlin, a New Hanover County republican. “So what are the options for doing that in a safe way?”

Those details were not available at the meeting, but the Outer Continental Shelf Coalition of Governors, or OCS, is still applauding the move. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory chairs that group. Some state lawmakers, however, want McCrory to create another group.

Under a law passed last year known as Senate Bill 76, the governor was encouraged to create a three state compact on offshore energy. That compact would be our neighbors to the north and south- Virginia and South Carolina.

That compact is on the back burner, though, as the state works with the OCS.

“We felt that as long as their interests coincide with North Carolina and as I said South Carolina and Virginia were both participating we felt that this was the most effective means to working with the federal government,” says van der Vaart.

But lawmakers, including the one that sponsored the law, say the compact should be being used.

“Why wouldn't we want to push across a broad front towards offshore development?”asked Sen. Buck Newton, a Wilson County republican.

If a compact is considered, it would need Congressional approval.

Even if testing does begin, it would still be several years before any sort of drilling could be considered.

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