Democrat Andrew Barnhill is challenging Senator Michael Lee for North Carolina Senate District 9, which covers most of New Hanover County. While Michael Lee has come out in support of offshore exploration for natural gas, Barnhill strongly opposes all drilling off the North Carolina coast.
Sections of the mid-Atlantic Ocean were originally considered for a five-year offshore drilling plan, but the Obama administration has since removed all areas of the Atlantic from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Leasing Program. So the shores of North Carolina are off the table until at least 2022. Still, Andrew Barnhill says it’s important for coastal communities to remain firm in their stance against offshore energy exploration:
"Certainly, right now, it’s off the table for the time being, but there was a recent EIS—an environmental impact study—that came out that showed this might be something that’s reconsidered for economic benefit in the future in North Carolina. But I think we have to continue to recognize that the environmental concerns with offshore drilling significantly outweigh any minor economic benefit that we might receive from it."
Instead of oil or natural gas, Barnhill has other ideas for improving the economy: namely, incentives—and not just for film. He also supports Medicaid expansion.