Drill or Not to Drill on the Outer Banks: Should We Still be Worried?

Not The Answer NCI thought it was a good idea to provide an update since it had been a year since we last mentioned offshore drilling, as it relates to the Outer Banks. But then the exciting news came, after I had started writing this, of the Administration’s reversal in the plan to not include the Atlantic as a leasing option.  The big talk on the Outer Banks was still all about #NotTheAnswer or #NotTheAnswerNC or #KilltheDrill up until March 15.  The local Surfrider Chapter continued to make a lot of noise and was still making national news about saying no to offshore drilling for the Atlantic.  The National Chapter really saw this issue as an important one as it ties directly to Surfrider’s mission and came on board with the Not the Answer campaign.  Their campaign included a surfboard being passed around to local businesses starting in Florida and it moved up the East Coast ending up with over 1,000 signatures to show that they oppose offshore drilling.  That signed surfboard was hand delivered to DC this past February.  Well, it seems that the Obama Administration noticed all the opposition and on March 15 the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced a revised proposal for the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022 which removed the mid and south Atlantic lease sales.  They elaborated that the removal of these areas makes sense since the revised proposal focuses leases in areas with the highest potential, greatest industry interest and where there is already established infrastructure.

It seems we still my have to convince our current Governor Pat McCrory that the potential negative impacts far out weigh any hope of income or jobs, and that these are the real concerns to his constituents.  After he initially praised the Administration’s proposed plan last year, he then went on to say that the 50 mile buffer in the plan is putting roughly 40% of his State’s offshore energy resources off limits and wanting that buffer reduced to only 30 miles.  He continues to say that drilling will bring jobs and significant revenue to our State.  It appears that the coastal counties in NC, with the exceptions of New Hanover and Carteret, have made it clear that they do not want drilling and that they feel the same way Dare County does: it is not worth the risk.  We have a huge economy that would be at risk if drilling were to commence and even more so if a spill ever occurred.  The coastal tourist industry is a well established source of revenue for the State especially here in Dare, Currituck, and Hyde counties. We cannot risk that industry for drilling.

The local Surfrider Chapter had continued to voice their concerns and stepped it up again in August 2015 when Governor McCrory was in Manteo at the Dare County Arts Council for a fundraiser.  They paired up with a local grassroots organization, LegaSea, and quickly organized a peaceful protest outside of the Council building.  About 70 people, including local students from Manteo High School’s Environmental Action Coalition group were outside the building with signs.  This isn’t the first time LegaSea has had to speak up against drilling off our coast.  They had to do this same thing in 1989 when Mobil was putting together a plan to drill a well off Cape Hatteras.  They managed to get all the way to DC with the support of the governor at that time and other officials to get their voices heard to get Mobil to go away.  Then, more recently, Surfrider had a banner fly over, that said “Oil Drilling is Bad for Busineess. NOTTHEANSWERNC.ORG” during the ground breaking ceremony of the new Bonner Bridge replacement that Governor McCrory spoke at where many other local representatives were also in attendance.  Dare County has been one of the most vocal opponents while McCrory has been one of the most vocal proponents for offshore drilling, so they make their voice known any chance they can.  The local Chapter also had another float in our infamous Kelly’s St Patrick’s Day parade on March 13th that included about 50 locals marching for their Not the Answer campaign again this year.

This battle seems to continue however, since McCrory and the American Petroleum Institute are still speaking out that they feel that the reversal from the Administration was for the far lefts and extremists only. That is simply not the case – it wasn’t just liberals or environmentalists that were speaking out opposing drilling in the Atlantic.  It was also business owners, fisherman, other commercial users and even the military and NASA, that are worried what the oil and gas industry can do when the use of our waters get limited or even worse, what happens when there is a spill.  The Interior Department indicated that it had received more than a million comments during the public comment period.  The opposition was bipartisan with 110 municipalities along the east coast passing resolutions against drilling. The risk is too big and it is not even proven that any additional jobs or revenue would be seen in any of the States along the Atlantic if drilling were allowed off of our coasts.  Well, the Atlantic is safe temporarily but not necessarily forever.  Pay attention if you feel that drilling is just not the answer!

not the answer Outer BanksCara Muglia, REALTOR®
Outer Banks Blue Realty Services

Bonner Bridge Construction Underway

The Outer Banks is one of the most unique and desired beach locations for visitors from all over the United States and the world. These visitors flock to the Outer Banks for many different reasons such as surfing, recreational or sport fishing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, family reunions, and weddings. The southern portion of the Outer Banks is Hatteras Island, which includes the villages Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. In order to cross over onto Hatteras Island, from the north, visitors must cross the Bonner Bridge. The Pamlico sound and Atlantic Ocean join under the two and a half mile bridge that connects Bodie Island and Pea Island. The Bonner Bridge, which was built in 1963, is the only highway connection from mainland North Carolina and Hatteras Island.

The Bonner Bridge was once expected to have a 30-year life span and has since exceeded those dates. Between local traffic and seasonal tourism traffic the bridge handles about two million cars a year. Together with the high volume of traffic, steady beach erosion, and turbulent storm seasons, the state is persistently forced to defend the integrity of NC Highway 12. Even though it is considered to be safe for travel, because of the constant maintenance, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has given the Bonner Bridge a four on a scale out of a possible 100 for structural integrity.

Due for replacement many years ago, the construction of a new bridge has been continuity hindered attributable to environmental lawsuits brought by means of the Southern Environmental Law Council. After many years a settlement agreement between lawyers from two conservation groups and NCDOT was reached, on June of 2015, with lawsuits officially being dropped on August 14, 2015, allowing a new bridge to be built parallel to the Bonner Bridge. The building of the new bridge will come as a relief to the many that live, travel, or own businesses and rely on the bridge as a necessary lifeline to the mainland.

On November 20, 2015, Governor McCrory announced utility work required to begin construction of the new Bonner Bridge replacement is underway. In the press release from November 20, 2015, Governor McCrory stated, “After decades of delays and court challenges, the people of Dare County and North Carolina will finally begin to see construction on the replacement for the Bonner Bridge. The Bonner Bridge has been a lifeline for the residents and visitors to the Outer Banks, and this first step toward building its replacement is a historic milestone for the region and entire state.”

According to the press release, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative is doing the utility work and PCL Civil Constructors Inc. and HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas will be in charge of designing and building the bridge. The bridge is expected to cost $216 million dollars and take three years to fully construct.

The Best Real Estate MarketDanielle-2015-10-14-1For more detailed information on the current state of the Outer Banks real estate market, please feel free to call Danny Fenyak at (252) 256-1818 or email him at dfenyak@outerbanksblue.com.