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Many in the hopeless, head-in-the-sand crowd on the far right will still be denying the reality of climate change when the ocean water is knee deep in Greenville, but fortunately, their position is becoming increasingly isolated. As the Washington Post reported on Sunday, even the bosses at the world’s second largest oil and gas company are now calling for strong government action to address the crisis:

“To understand how dangerously extreme the Republican Party has become on climate change, compare its stance to that of ExxonMobil.

No one would confuse the oil and gas giant with the Sierra Club. But if you visit Exxon’s website , you will find that the company believes climate change is real, that governments should take action to combat it and that the most sensible action would be a revenue-neutral tax on carbon — in other words, a tax on oil, gas and coal, with the proceeds returned to taxpayers for them to spend as they choose.

With no government action, Exxon experts told us during a visit to The Post last week, average temperatures are likely to rise by a catastrophic (my word, not theirs) 5 degrees Celsius, with rises of 6, 7 or even more quite possible.”

But, of course, as we know all too well, such obvious science and common sense talk mean nothing to the denizens of right-wing “think tanks” and cynical politicians who place, respectively, their fetishistic worship of obscure Austrian economists and lust for personal power above the survival of the biosphere.

In such a situation, it is more important than ever that caring and thinking people who want the planet to survive in some semblance of its current self to redouble their efforts to defeat the deniers. And as for ExxonMobil finally coming around to the obvious truth, all one can say is “welcome to the fight — better late than never.”

Commentary

NCPW-CC-2015-04-07-oil-rig-flickr-tsuda-CC-BY-SA-2-0-150x150Hundreds of Atlantic coast business owners — including scores from North Carolina — delivered a letter to President Obama yesterday that pleads with him to reverse his earlier decision to give initial approval to offshore oil and gas exploration. As reported by Katie Valentine of Think Progress:

“For coastal companies that depend on a healthy stream of tourists to keep business healthy, the prospect of drilling in the Atlantic Ocean means one thing: spills that will sully beaches and drive visitors away.

More than 300 Atlantic coast businesses sent a letter to President Obama Thursday, urging him to take back his administration’s proposal to allow drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. In January, the Obama administration announced a proposal to sell oil and gas leases in offshore sites from Virginia to Georgia. Currently, there is no offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, though drilling does occur in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the letter, the businesses outline the economic risk posed by offshore drilling, saying that monetary losses due to lost tourism revenue could be ‘devastating.’ They also note that the Energy Information Administration estimates that the Atlantic Ocean holds only about 209 days’ worth of oil and 13 months’ worth of natural gas.”

Not surprisingly, North Carolina had more signatories on the letter than any of the other 11 states represented. North Carolina is at the epicenter of the offshore drilling debate with Governor McCrory pushing to drill even closer to the coast than federal officials have discussed.

As Sierra Weaver of the Southern Environmental Law Center explained at an N.C. Policy Watch luncheon earlier this year, the battle over offshore drilling still has a long way to go.

To learn more about the enormous threat that drilling would pose to North Carolina, visit the N.C. Coastal Federation by clicking here.

Commentary

Not that the powers that be in Raleigh appear terribly concerned about what the majority of people living along the North Carolina coast think, but another coastal community has spoken up loudly and clearly against Governor Pat McCrory’s wrongheaded decision to proceed with offshore oil exploration. This is from the lead article in this morning’s Wilmington Star News:

“Thunderous applause followed a Wilmington City Council decision Tuesday to oppose oil drilling off the North Carolina coast.

Attendees against offshore drilling — some waving “Don’t drill N.C.” signs — filled seats, lined the walls and overflowed into an upstairs area at the council chambers Tuesday evening. The crowd was so large that about 100 people had to wait outside the meeting after the room hit capacity.

The resolution approved unanimously by the council, presented by councilman Charlie Rivenbark, opposes both offshore drilling and seismic testing to find oil and natural gas….

According to [the environmental group] Oceana, 15 North Carolina municipalities — including Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Topsail Beach — have passed resolutions voicing concerns about seismic testing or offshore drilling.”

Meanwhile, the good people at the North Carolina Coastal Federation, who have spoken out loudly and clearly about the huge dangers of offshore drilling will be hosting another forum on the subject in New Bern next Friday. This from the online description:

“What does the North Carolina coast look like today – economically, environmentally and socially? How could this change with the introduction of the oil and gas industry? This forum is intended to delve into the economic truths, environmental implications, and actual effects on coastal communities. Speakers include researchers, regulators, elected officials and coastal residents, from the Gulf of Mexico to Currituck Sound.”

Click here to learn more and register. The deadline is this Friday the 24th.

And if you’d like to get the full scoop on the move to turn the North Carolina coast into a version of Louisiana’s from the comfort of your own computer, click here to watch a presentation from earlier this year by Sierra Weaver of the Southern Environmental Law center at an NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon.

Commentary

This morning’s edition of the Greensboro News & Record has a fine editorial (“Whose property is it, anyway?”) that takes down one of the most pernicious aspects of fracking that was unaddressed by the state’s new law allowing the controversial energy drilling procedure: “forced pooling”:

“Forced pooling began with good intentions. It was meant to limit the number of wells and make sure that landowners weren’t denied payment for oil and gas lying below their property. Unfortunately, the practice can be turned against them.

Natural gas may lie below many properties. Owners can pool their interests to command a good price and limit how many wells are drilled. But, if a few owners won’t go along, they could block some of their neighbors from the pool or force the drilling of additional wells, raising costs. Laws in many states can compel them to join, awarding them a fair share of the proceeds and in some cases assigning them a portion of the costs.”

The editorial explains that Virginia just defeated a bill that would have allowed the practice there and and urges support for legislation by Rep. Bryan Holloway that would ban forced pooling in North Carolina too. One would think that such a measure — which Holloway rightfully defends as being about property rights — would be a no-brainer for conservatives, but it’s funny how sweet-talking by big energy companies has a way of trumping ideology for those on the right.

An informal poll on the N&R website yesterday found that readers opposed forced polling by a ratio of about 15 to 1. We’ll see who state legislators are listening to in the coming weeks: average people and landowners or fat cat energy lobbyists. Stay tuned.

Commentary

Offshore oil platformEnvironmental organizations are doubling down on efforts to get concerned citizens to comment on the federal government’s proposed plan to open the coast of North Carolina to offshore oil and gas drilling. The deadline for comments in this phase of the process is this coming Monday March 30.

To comment, click here to visit the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management website and click on the “Comment Now!” button.

To learn more, check out the websites of the groups the N.C. Coastal Federation, Environment North Carolina, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the NC Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, and Stop Offshore Drilling of the Atlantic (SODA).

For an opposing, pro-drilling point of view, check out this recent op-ed by the Executive Director of the NC Petroleum Council.

Meanwhile, for a comprehensive overview of the subject and what will happen next, be sure to RSVP for the upcoming April 7, NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon, “Can this coastline be saved?” Click here for more information.