Manteo meeting on Thursday to discuss offshore oil and gas exploration with North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Over 120 people attended.

Offshore drilling is again in the news on the Outer Banks and opposition to it seems as strong as it ever has.

At at North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality hearing on the issue Thursday night, more than 30 people rose to speak out against the idea.

Most Outer Banks residents and visitors felt a 2015 Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) plan that would run from 2017-2022 protected coastal North Carolina from exploration with a 50 mile buffer zone, well outside the Manteo Block. The Manteo Block is an underwater limestone outcropping that was identified in the 1980s as a possible source of gas or oil.

BOEM has indicated, however, that new five year plans may be drawn up and that the new plans could include exploiting reserves closer to the Outer Banks.

Opposition to offshore exploration and development of oil or gas seems to cross party, economic and generational lines. Most Outer Banks residents feel the only economic impact to the local economy would be negative if a well leaked.

Governor Roy Cooper has been vocal in his opposition. The state legislature seems to be in favor of exploring offshore resources, although that could be complicated by the position coastal representatives and senators take.

In the past Senator Bill Cook has indicated that because any resource would be beyond the three mile zone the state controls, but felt there is tremendous potential if developed in a “prudent way.”

Representative Beverly Boswell has not taken a position as a state representative, but did issue a strong statement as a County Commissioner in opposition in 2015 when voting on a resolution against offshore drilling.