Nags Head mayor in D.C. to fight offshore drilling

By on November 13, 2019


Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon is among roughly 30 leaders from 13 coastal states heading to Washington, D.C. this week to urge lawmakers on Capitol Hill to maintain offshore drilling protections passed this summer by the House of Representatives.

The effort, coordinated by the conservation organization Oceana, comes as Congress prepares to hammer out details of the 2020 Fiscal Year spending plan. And it’s another chapter in a longstanding battle over offshore drilling that was re-ignited in early 2017 when newly elected President Donald Trump signed an executive order restarting the process of opening the Atlantic, and other waters, to offshore energy exploration.

The protections include two amendments to the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies funding bill that would block offshore drilling expansion during Fiscal Year 2020 in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, along with the eastern Gulf of Mexico. A third amendment would block funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to issue permits for seismic air gun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. The goal of the coastal delegation is to lobby lawmakers to protect those amendments as they wind their way through the federal budget process.

“We’re here to send a message to protect those provisions as they go through [the budget process],” Cahoon told the Voice during a Nov. 12 interview. “This is the message of Nags Head. Offshore drilling is bad for us…we have a wonderful economy that supports the community and protects the environment.”

Cahoon and others in the delegation, which includes business leaders, conservation advocates and local and state elected officials, are scheduled to meet with lawmakers on Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 in anticipation of upcoming federal budget negotiations. The federal budget year begins Oct. 1, however Congress passed a continuing resolution in September that was signed by President Trump to fund the government through Nov. 21.

The delegation’s visit also comes after a federal judge’s ruling this spring that shut down the Trump Administration’s plans to lift a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Artic. The ruling caused Trump officials to sideline, at least temporarily, larger plans to expand drilling off the nation’s coasts.

Cahoon is joined on Capitol Hill by two other North Carolina officials – Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and Carteret County Chamber of Commerce President Tom Kies, who also serves as president of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.

Cahoon said the group would be meeting with U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and also hoped to meet with Third District Congressman Greg Murphy, a Republican who recently won the special election to succeed the late Walter Jones Jr. and who represents the Outer Banks.

“It’s a priority for me to meet [Murphy] and bring him the message that the Outer Banks is unified in opposition to offshore drilling,” said Cahoon.

An outspoken opponent of offshore drilling, Cahoon co-hosted a Mayoral Roundtable to Protect Our North Carolina Coast in May in which nearly a dozen mayors attended to show solidarity in their opposition.   

At the event, North Carolina Secretary of the Department of Environment Quality Michael Regan cautioned those at the meeting not to let their guard down when it came to the campaign against offshore drilling: “We have to remain vigilant in opposition to the drilling off our coast and we have to be prepared to protect our communities.”

In a Nov. 12 press release, Oceana also emphasized that the battle is far from over. “For decades, Congress upheld offshore drilling moratoriums through the Interior-Environment funding bill,” the release stated. “While the Trump administration delayed plans to expand offshore drilling to new areas, the January 2018 proposal to open over 90 percent of federal waters to offshore drilling remains on the table.”

In a related matter, another Dare County mayor was traveling last week as part of an effort to oppose offshore drilling. Outgoing Kill Devil Hills Mayor Sheila Davies was invited to Nova Scotia by the Council of Canadians to speak about the town’s and county’s fight to oppose offshore drilling. That group, along with Nova Scotia Offshore Alliance, announced that a dozen municipal governments there were requesting an inquiry into offshore drilling along with a moratorium.

Recent posts in this category

Recent posts in this category


  • Wombatnc

    Thank you Ben Cahoon, Oceana and the other coastal mayors who are fighting against this enviro-hating Trump administration.

    Wednesday, Nov 13 @ 6:59 am
  • Travis

    So riddle me this: We really have zero control about the decision to allow offshore drilling. No votes. No seat at the table. No political juice. Nada. Yet we have people at every level of local government fighting the good fight to try to prevent it. Why? Because the majority (and I’d argue the vast majority) of residents here do not want it.

    Now, on the issue of the McMansion or mini-hotels, there is still some local influence left that can impact their construction. Like offshore drilling, there’s an economic vs environmental component to the decision of whether to allow them. If you go by the local surveys, most people come down on the side of the environmental and quality of life issues. There is a clear consensus to put the brakes on this particular development. And yet the local boards continue to struggle with the issue (at best) or act indecisively (at worst).

    So to argue the issue “needs more study” or that state government has completely removed all local control is lazy and dishonest, particularly when it comes from the same people who regularly vote for and work to oppose offshore drilling.

    Wednesday, Nov 13 @ 10:12 am
  • surf123

    I am sure the mayor feels good about himself, but what he has done is waste taxpayer funds on a junket (vacation) to Washington, DC. We have representatives and senators whose job it is to that.

    Thursday, Nov 14 @ 10:19 am
  • Eugene

    If only those elected officials (your representatives and senators) voted to block offshore drilling. However, they are more interested in the National Agenda of their party, and currently that agenda is to protect their pockets and the party. This is what happens when you combine local politics with party affiliation.

    Thursday, Nov 14 @ 3:49 pm
  • surf123

    @Eugene…I could not agree more with party agenda affecting local politics.

    Friday, Nov 15 @ 9:19 am
  • Stan Clough

    All a lot of nonsense. I am sure Ben means well but has no sense of direction. Lost in the sea of bureaucracy as so many are. Wake up my friend !!!

    Friday, Nov 15 @ 7:35 pm
  • Jackie Myers

    Surf 123…you’ve obviously never been in a “fight” regarding a political issue serving on behalf of your constituents especially after a long drive and multiple meetings…it is FAR from a vacation. Give it try if you still think so.

    Friday, Nov 15 @ 9:33 pm
  • Jackie Myers

    Surf 123…you’ve obviously never been in a “fight” regarding a political issue serving on behalf of your constituents especially after a long drive and multiple meetings…it is FAR from a vacation. Give it a try if you still think so.

    Friday, Nov 15 @ 9:35 pm
  • DS

    So almost everything in your life has petroleum products in it or requires them to make or transport them. Your iPhone, MacBook, iPad, underwear, socks, bra, condoms, lube, carpet, the wiring in your house; the siding on it; your roof; water and sewage plumbing; kitchen counters; majority of your appliances; shower/tub, surfboard, wetsuits the tires on your car and so much more. Your Tesla and Prius are loaded with them. Additionally your solar panels and windmills have so much of the product in their parts. Then there is thew way you charge your Tesla, which is VIA coal or nuke generated power. And if you use solar or wind you have to store the power or you have no power at night or during a storm, which requires batteries that have petroleum products in their production. Least lets not even mention how batteries are made, which includes raw materials that are generated from strip mining; vehicles without any pollution controls get those products and transport them to mfg. Lastly when they are at end of life there is content that cannot be recycled. Fools follow like sheep.

    Saturday, Nov 16 @ 1:42 pm