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.


With news reports indicating that lawmakers have reached a backroom deal to expand the number of so-called “terminal groins” allowed along the North Carolina coast, the frequently conservative editorial page of the Jacksonville Daily News has reprinted an editorial this morning from the Wilmington Star News that does a great job of shredding the whole idea.

“A terminal groin is a big wall or hardened structure stretching out into the ocean, usually perpendicular to the coastline. Groins are built to change the effects of beach erosion. Jetties, on the other hand, are built so a channel to the ocean will stay open for navigation.

The trouble is — as almost every geologist and oceanographer will tell you — groins don’t really work. They stop or slow erosion in the immediate vicinity, but worsen erosion farther down the beach by halting the natural flow of sand.

Beach sand migrates and trying to stop its natural course is like old King Canute trying to keep the tide from coming in. It’s folly — potentially expensive folly.

Senior homeowners on Social Security and inland residents could wind up being taxed for “beach nourishment” to protect pricey oceanfront real estate. And what may help one property owner surely will end up badly for someone down the beach.

For three decades, North Carolina had a good rule barring any form of beach hardening. In 2011, the General Assembly, in its wisdom, chose to water down that rule allowing four “test” groins.

Not content to see how the tests perform, the N.C. Senate is ready to wash away all precaution.”

And, sadly, it appears the House is going along with this as well. Read the entire editorial by clicking here.


As has been explained on multiple occasions by a wide variety of experts, there are a couple of basic rules in play when in it comes to understanding the present and future of the North Carolina coastline.

Rule #1 is that the sandy beaches that run for hundreds of miles along our coast are in a constant state of evolution. They ebb and flow and are moving all the time.

Rule #2 is that no one can change Rule #1.

Oh sure, people will try to build “groins” and other “hardened structures” in an effort to get around Rule #1, but experience shows that all that does is make things worse in a lot of places. If you doubt this, visit some of the beaches of other states along the eastern seaboard who have tried to control nature in this way and then watched as the erosion has only worsened in numerous areas.

Unfortunately, people never seem to remember these rules. Hence, stories like this one from this morning’s Coastal Review Online:

RALEIGH – A provision in the latest version of the state budget still in the works would lift the cap on the number of terminal groins allowed on the N.C. coast. Read More


[The title of this post has been updated to assuage the concerns of those who interpreted it as somehow heralding criticism of the the City of Raleigh.]

In case you missed it Sunday, the editorial page of the Greensboro News & Record did a great, if sobering, job of summing up the ongoing war on North Carolina’s natural environment that’s being waged by the state’s conservative political leadership.The editorial — “A toxic wish list,” begins this way:

“Don’t look now, but planet Earth is under attack. From Raleigh.

And resistance is futile. Or so it seems.”

After alluding to a 2013 bill by Greensboro’s Senator Trudy Wade that, amazingly, proposed to allow garbage trucks to spill more noxious liquid on the highways and byways of the state, the editorial puts it this way:

“But Wade’s bill was only the first drip in a noxious flood of legislation that followed from a GOP-controlled legislature that seems hell-bent on disintegrating protections against tainted water and filthy air. The list, contained in an omnibus bill, is as long as it is shortsighted.

One provision, pushed by Wade, would no longer require electronics companies to help defray the expense of recycling and disposing of discarded computers, televisions and other products that can create dangerous toxins in landfills.

Wade’s reasoning: The expense was too burdensome for those companies.

So, where, then would the additional costs logically shift? To the city and county governments that have established e-recycling drop-off programs. And ultimately to local taxpayers.

What’s the harm? Wade told the News & Record’s Taft Wireback. ‘It’s still banned from landfills.’ As if an electronics fairy comes and magically takes old e-junk away in the dead of night and leaves quarters.

Another pending change would allow construction nearer to streams.

Another would allow companies that turn themselves in for pollution not to be assessed penalties if they cooperate in clean-up efforts.

Another would force citizen groups that file lawsuits against state agencies on environmental issues to reimburse the state for attorney’s fees if the state wins in court. (In effect, it dares citizens to sue.)

Still another Read More


DENRpicFor many years, North Carolina has been lucky enough to be served by a dedicated group of public servants of both major political parties who were committed to protecting and preserving the state’s natural environment from the frequently destructive impacts of rapid population growth, industrialization, mushrooming energy use and all of the other trappings of modern American society. A large number of these fine people served in an agency that has long operated under the moniker “Department of Environment and Natural Resources” or “DENR” for short.

In 2015, however, it’s now clear that things have changed. Oh sure, there are still some dedicated public servants of both major parties doing their best to pursue the goal of preserving something of our natural environment, but increasingly, it’s clear that DENR’s leadership has no real interest in such a mission. In recent days, for instance, the appointed leader of what is supposedly North Carolina’s environmental protection agency spent much of his time: a) promoting offshore oil drilling near North Carolina’s beautiful and fragile coastline and b) railing against efforts by the federal government to promote clean air and fight the existential threat of global warming. What’s next — a new DENR initiative to promote fracking?

The bottom line: “DENR” clearly no longer stands for what it once did. It is obvious, therefore — at the risk of giving the McCrory people an idea that they’ll run with — that the agency should be rechristened the Department of Exploitation of Natural Resources.

They won’t even have to change the acronym. A change to the symbols in the above logo might be apt however. How about an oil spill, some smoggy air and a patch of parched and barren land?