Who do Southeast governors represent in their push for offshore drilling?

North Carolina's Governor Pat McCrory, pictured here in 2014, heads a group of governors supporting offshore drilling, even as opposition grows among their constituents. (© Mike Spencer/AP)

Despite the increasing and intense opposition to opening the Southern coasts to offshore drilling–towns along the coasts have passed resolutions opposing drilling and elected officials have spoken out against it–coastal Southeast governors continue to lobby strongly for risky drilling.

What’s the disconnect between coastal communities and the governors that represent them?

The Institute for Southern Studies’ Facing South online magazine just released the results of an 18-month investigation that reveals deep ties between the oil and gas industry and a Governors Coalition that has lobbied heavily to open up the South Atlantic to offshore drilling.

As Facing South reports:

“The oil and gas industry's success in getting Atlantic drilling back on the agenda [following the BP Gulf of Mexico spill] can be traced in large part to the full-throttle lobbying efforts of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition – a secretive group founded in 2011 to revive and expand offshore drilling in the wake of the BP disaster… [D]espite its image of being a group of publicly-elected state officials, the Governors Coalition is largely run and managed by two groups tied to the oil and gas industry."

The article details how the Governors Coalition – whose members include Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina – is largely managed and staffed by two private organizations directly tied to the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas industry representatives even drafted op-eds and lobbying letters for the governors, as well as connected governors with energy industry donors, through the Coalition.

McCrory, who is Chairman of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, recently faced strong criticism when he testified for Congress not only to lobby for drilling off the Atlantic coasts, but to push to bring drilling even closer to beaches by removing a proposed 50-mile buffer.

Listen to Senior Attorney Sierra Weaver review the story behind the federal proposal to open Southeastern Atlantic waters to offshore drilling.

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