A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th District, asked President Trump to reverse Obama-era regulations that effectively halted oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast.

Hudson was by the president’s side on Friday when Trump signed The America First Offshore Energy Executive Order. It opens leasing of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration and future production of energy resources.

“I’ve been advocating for environmentally sound offshore exploration in the Atlantic for years. It’s about time we had a president who shares my desire to responsibly open North Carolina to energy exploration while protecting our beautiful coastal waters as well as our tourism and ocean industries,” said Hudson.

“I will continue to work to get North Carolina into the energy business to unlock good-paying jobs and strengthen our energy security,” said Hudson, who introduced legislation last year requiring the Obama administration to open lease sales off of North Carolina’s coast to energy exploration and development.

Hudson is co-chairman of the Atlantic Offshore Energy Caucus. That committee works to advance policies that responsibly explore and expand energy production in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.

In his remarks at the signing, Trump said his executive order would begin to reverse Obama-era policies that kept 94 percent of offshore areas closed to energy production. It also would open the Arctic for drilling.

The order “will enable better scientific study of our offshore resources, and research that has blocked everything from happening for far too long,” Trump said.  

“Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless good jobs, and make America more secure, and far more energy independent,” Trump said.  

In his letter to Trump dated April 13, Hudson said he was “profoundly disappointed” that the Obama administration “turned their backs” on consideration of Atlantic oil and gas exploration. He urged Trump to allow exploration and production or risk losing those resources to other nations that are tapping into their Atlantic offshore areas.

Hudson wrote in the letter that the eight U.S. senators and a majority of the congressional delegations from the states that would be affected by the Atlantic lease sales, as well as polling, all support the measure.

Some coastal municipalities and grass-roots organizations have been wary of opening the Atlantic for oil and gas drilling due to concerns over spills and the harm that might inflict on their fishing and tourism lifeblood.

Bob Keefe, executive director of the national Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) was among the environmental advocates who objected to the executive order.

“President Trump wants to pursue risky and costly offshore drilling for dirty energy instead of investing in America’s booming clean energy sector,” Keefe said.

“Drilling in these waters is not only counterproductive to clean energy growth, it also contributes to climate change, and unnecessarily puts coastal communities and businesses at risk of the next big oil spill,” Keefe said. “A smarter, more forward-looking strategy would seize on current market realities and hasten our transition to a clean energy economy.”

The American Petroleum Institute has encouraged offshore energy production.

It claims research shows annual spending in North Carolina could be nearly $3.3 billion from exploration and development activity by 2035, and 55,000 jobs could be created, 20,000 of them in the oil and gas industry. The state could receive an estimated $885 million per year in revenues.