Carolina Beach event will protest Trump’s offshore drilling plans

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Video: The 2015 “Hands Across the Sand” event. (Courtesy Hendy Street Produxions)

CAROLINA BEACH — People from across the Cape Fear area will join hands Saturday in opposition to President Trump’s offshore drilling plans.

In late April, Trump signed the “America-First Offshore Energy Plan,” an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to review policy on drilling and seismic testing for oil along the Atlantic Coast.

Upon signing the order, Trump cited the desire to create jobs and wealth from American energy resources.

“Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves,” Trump said. “But the federal government has kept 94 percent of these offshore areas closed for exploration and production.  And when they say closed, they mean closed.”

According to Ethan Crouch, chairman of the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation, the risks to coastal Carolina from such activities are profound and twofold: economic and ecological.

Ethan Crouch, chair of the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation, during this year's Carolina Beach dune reclamation project. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
Ethan Crouch, chairman of the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation, during this year’s Carolina Beach dune reclamation project. (Port City Daily photo/BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

“Our community has a thriving recreation and tourism economy the relies on clean beaches and a healthy ocean,” Crouch said. “It makes no sense from a business perspective to put all that at risk for the sake of profits for some huge multinational corporation that is not invested in our community.”

The ecological threats are equally important, and would threaten the region, according to Crouch.

“Spills happen, it’s not a matter of if but when,” Crouch said. “The oil and gas industry has proven this over and over again, from large scale disasters like the Deepwater Horizon in the gulf, to regular low level spills from normal everyday operations. The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream [are] home to one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. A spill would devastate our sea turtles, whales, and our vibrant fisheries here in N.C.”

The Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation is holding an event on Saturday,  May 20, to protest Trump’s actions and to raise awareness about the risks of both drilling and seismic testing. The testing process involves high-pressure air blasts which, if implemented, would threaten over 100,000 marine mammals, according to Oceana USA, an environmental advocacy group. The Department of the Interior under the Obama administration had already begun moving in that direction with at 2014 report considering testing surveys in the Atlantic, the first in 26 years

Starting at 11:30 a.m. as many as 400 people plan to gather at Carolina Beach at the Harper Avenue beach access. At noon, participants will join hands on the beach to form a ‘metaphorical and actual line in the sand.’ The Surfrider Foundation encourages visitors to “come early, enjoy the beach and beat the traffic,” and suggests participants carpool or ride bikes. For more information, you can visit the Cape Fear Surfrider Foundation’s event page.