Staff photo by Allison Potter
Penny, left, and Mark Hooper of Hooper Family Seafood and Jenny Marienau of 350 Action Fund were among the speakers at a press conference opposing drilling off North Carolina’s coast on Friday, Sept. 28 at Wrightsville’s south end.
Held on the shores of Banks Channel at the south end of Wrightsville Beach, the -
350.org Action Fund organized a flotilla press conference on Friday, Sept. 28, to protest offshore drilling along the North Carolina Coast. Joining Jenny Marienau, the N.C. field organizer for 350.org, was Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti, Mark and Penny Hooper of Hooper Family Seafood, and Zac Singleton of the Sierra Club. While the event was taking place on the beach, two boats in the background displayed banners that read, “Gov. Romney: North Carolina’s Coast is Not Open For Drilling.”
Romney has endorsed an increase in offshore drilling in the United States in an effort to make the country energy independent by 2020 but Marienau and 350.org hope to inform Romney of the harmful environmental effects drilling for oil off the North Carolina coast could have.
“Drilling is now restricted here through 2017 and we intend to keep it that way,” Marienau said. “Opening our coasts to drilling would put our businesses, which depend on tourism, at risk if we experience an oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster, which has devastated businesses up and down the Gulf Coast.”
The 350.org Action Fund is an international grassroots organization that seeks to solve the climate crisis through promoting a greater public awareness about the issue. The number in the organization’s name refers to the level of parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. Currently carbon dioxide makes up 394 ppm of the earth’s atmosphere. It should be less than 350 ppm to maintain the necessary temperature to avoid any further melting of the polar ice caps, states 350.org. On its website, 350.org claims that until humans began using fossil fuels, there was only 275 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but the level is now rising at an accelerated rate of 2 ppm every year.
Attached to the letter Marienau will send to Romney is a list of 23 businesses from Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington that support the anti-offshore drilling initiative.
Alluding to a press conference about the benefits of offshore wind energy in N.C. that was held earlier in the month of September, Mayor Cignotti reiterated his support for clean energy.
“Drilling is not the best option for coastal North Carolina because it is too much of a threat to our coastal communities,” Cignotti said. “Let’s not be a fossil fuel follower.”
Mark and Penny Hooper also expressed their concerns about drilling off the North Carolina coast as longtime operators of a commercial seafood company in Smyrna, N.C. “I feel a moral outrage about what we are doing to this planet with little or no consideration for our grandchildren’s future,” Penny Hooper said. “We must move to alternative fuels like wind and solar and leave the carbon in the ground.”