North Carolina sues over federal decision on seismic testing

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina sued the federal government Wednesday to block an attempt at seismic testing off the state’s Atlantic coast to measure for oil and gas deposits, saying a U.S. agency’s decision was unlawful.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration overrode in June objections by state Division of Coastal Management to the seismic activity WesternGeco LLC wants to conduct.

In a federal lawsuit filed by Attorney General Josh Stein’s office, the state says NOAA erred by declaring the testing would “further the national interest”and would have “minor, localized and temporary” effects on the coast.

Stein and fellow Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper oppose offshore drilling.

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“North Carolinians have made their views crystal clear: We do not want drilling off our coast,” Stein said in a news release. “I am going to court to fight on their behalf.”

Many Republican state legislators support offshore exploration, saying deposits could generate jobs and make the state more energy independent. A bipartisan group of more than two dozen coastal mayors signed a resolution last year urging such exploration be permanently off-limits.

The tests, which include burst of sounds from airguns, would adversely affect sea life, tourism and fishing, the lawsuit said. Stein’s office says more permits would be needed for the testing to occur.

NOAA, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and assistant secretary Neil Jacobs are listed as defendants.

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