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Panel suggests more research on N.C. offshore drilling

Posted May 19, 2010

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— A legislative subcommittee tasked with studying offshore drilling along North Carolina's coast told state officials Wednesday that more research is needed.

Doug Rader, co-chairman of the Legislative Research Commission Advisory Subcommittee on Offshore Energy Exploration and chief oceans scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission that it's unclear where or even how much oil or natural gas might be off the state's shoreline.

No recommendations on offshore drilling No recommendations on offshore drilling

Current estimates are nearly 30 years old and based on outdated research techniques, he said.

Several oil companies want to explore the possibility after President George W. Bush lifted a moratorium in 2008 and President Barack Obama announced he was opening much of the East Coast to energy exploration.

"It's new territory for us here, because the East Coast has been under moratorium for the last 26 years," said Mike Lopazanksi, coast and oceans policy advisor for the Division of Coastal Management.

The benefits of drilling are revenue and jobs for the state. Proponents have also argued that it would help maintain the cost of gasoline and limit foreign dependency.

The risks include oil spills like the one currently in the Gulf of Mexico.

A week after the subcommittee finished its report, the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and causing a growing environmental hazard as oil continues to leak from an undersea wellhead.

Rader said that as a result of the spill, many of the policies the subcommittee identified in the report are in the process of changing.

State officials did emphasize that public hearings would be held before any energy exploration were to begin.

An Elon University poll last month found that 63 percent of those surveyed support oil and gas drilling of the state coast, despite the Gulf explosion.


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  • Voice_0f_reason May 20, 2010

    "An Elon University poll last month found that 63 percent of those surveyed support oil and gas drilling of the state coast, despite the Gulf explosion."

    Yeah, that was before 20 days passed in this month with BP still having not fixed the problem. There's no way BP is going to get the public behind them now.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 20, 2010

    JustAName, after the oil rig exploded, it sank. Quickly. The whole thing was a "burner". It didn't work on the oil pipe 1 mile below the surface.

    Say, did you catch Sunday's 60 Minutes show? They had the rig Engineer on there giving the inside scoop. Very enlightening. :-)

  • JustAName May 20, 2010

    "not learn anything from this disastrous oil spill"

    Since there was a federal plan to burn up the oil, then NC should follow through with that plan and actually stock the resources to do so. NC has plans for hurricanes, they can also have plans for oil disasters and require any oil rigged built to have 5 burners each and other safety features. It wouldn't cost the state a dime.

  • dib May 20, 2010

    I think the Elon University's polling is biased. You could retake it and probably find a lower percentage. Buy hey, why not drill here. Our coasts are lined with house and hotels anyway. Maybe we could put a gas pump on the beach for everyone that wants to drive up and down in their cars and trucks. Just like the lottery money has not gone to education as it should, this oil will not help the prices here in NC. Besides, where is this oil going to be refined? Texas or some other state maybe? Or are homes along the coast going to be replaced by oil refineries?

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 20, 2010

    I'm glad they are THINKING on this. :-)

    It would be an ignorant shame to not learn anything from this disastrous oil spill and just continue on without a care or thought.

  • scientistjo May 20, 2010

    OK, let's say that this would add jobs. Then let's say there is a huge leak and our coastline is ruined. How many jobs will be lost then? Resorts, vacationers, etc...they won't be coming here. The NC coast is an essential money maker and to risk losing it isn't worth it!