Editor’s note: Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, visited Hyde County on Tuesday and listened to comments from Ocracoke regarding off-shore oil drilling and seismic testing.
Regan was in the Hyde County Government Center in Swan Quarter and communications between the mainland and the island was via videoconferencing. He said his purpose was to hear the views of those living along the coast and collect information that will help them in opposing this initiative made by the U.S. Department of Interior.
Several people made public comments, and the Observer will report more on this meeting.
Below is the statement of the first speaker, Janey Jacoby:
Thank you for being available to hear comments concerning the possibility of allowing seismic testing and drilling along the coast of North Carolina.
I am a resident of Ocracoke. I am here to tell you that as life goes on we encounter changes – some are good, and some are not so good.
Along our coast we are now facing a very critical time. As the years have passed, the villages along the Outer Banks have grown from small, quiet places to areas that have attracted thousands of visitors that yearn for spending time in a more pristine environment than where they live most of their life.
People come for the beautiful beaches – some which have been listed as the most beautiful in the country. They may come as avid birdwatchers, for we are in the Atlantic flyway. Even the birds know it is a special area, for they come in flocks year after year. Many people come to fish, for along our coast is some of the best fishing available. Many come as hunters to enjoy the thrill of seeking out the fall bird migration and to hunt bears along the mainland area.
A lot of people choose coastal North Carolina, for it is not only beautiful, but it moves at a slower pace than where many of these people live and work.
No matter why people choose our area, it is up to us as individuals and the state of North Carolina to do everything possible to retain this precious environment along our coast. We luckily have the Cape Hatteras National Seashore that works hard to see that the environment is protected.
We all need to join them in being good stewards of this land, for it can take only one poorly made decision to change the lives of not only people who live here and visit, but also the fisheries, bird life, the turtles that nest along our beaches, and the many migrating whales and dolphins that move up and down our coastline.
I encourage you to step forward and insist that North Carolina be taken out of the areas planned for seismic testing and drilling. Destruction of an area that is so environmentally important to people and wildlife in exchange for the possibility of an oil spill that could change the life of so many would be unconscionable on your part.