The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources hosted the meeting in Raleigh with Gov. Pat McCrory in attendance. Members of the media were allowed to participate in a Q&A session with McCrory at the end of the meeting.
“Increasing availability of natural gas will strengthen our economy and contribute to economic prosperity for decades to come,” McCrory said in a statement explaining the purpose of the meeting.
Several environmental groups requested to be present, but Crystal Feldman, energy spokeswoman of the N.C. DENR, said in an email all industry representatives and special interest group requests were denied.
“The agenda and format was collectively developed by participating federal and state agencies,” she said. “No attendee was directly employed by industry.”
Under North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law, gatherings of public bodies are “official meetings” and must be open to the public when hearings, votes or deliberations are occurring, though informal meetings of members of a public body don’t have to be open.
Employees from both the Southern Environmental Law Center and Oceana said groups representing oil and gas companies were at the meeting to discuss the possibility of oil drilling on Atlantic coastlines.