The Sierra Club today endorsed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, who sought to clarify his opposition to oil and gas drilling off the North Carolina coast.
Christa Wagner of the group’s N.C. chapter applauded what she called Cunningham’s strong record on the environment during his single term in the state Senate from 2001-2003, Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer reports.
Even before the endorsement was announced, rival Democrat Ken Lewis called on the Sierra Club to withdraw it. He was reacting to an AP story in which Cunningham said he would consider offshore drilling "as part of a broader energy plan."
"You can’t have it both ways," Lewis said in a statement. "You can’t be opposed to drilling off of North Carolina’s coast and be open to drilling off of North Carolina’s coast."
Asked about the charges, Cunningham said he remains opposed to drilling but would look at it in the context of a broader energy plan.
“I’ve been consistent in my position that off-shore drilling is insignificant in the larger discussion," he said. "I anticipate that offshore drilling is going to be part of a larger package … We have to have comprehensive energy legislation in this country…
"Give me a straight up-or-down vote on offshore drilling and I'm a 'No,'" he said.