State News

Legislative panel to study offshore drilling

Posted November 20, 2008

— North Carolina legislative leaders will form a committee to study whether drilling for oil and natural gas is feasible off the coast.

Senate leader Marc Basnight said Thursday he remains opposed to drilling to explore for energy reserves.

But Basnight, a powerful Democrat from coastal Dare County, and House Speaker Joe Hackney have agreed to create a legislative panel to look at environmental concerns and what the state can do proactively on the matter.

"We should be on a fact-finding mission, one that will provide the kind of information that is now lacking," Basnight said. "When you build refineries, what do they look like? What do they do to the air and water? How many people do they employ at what cost?"

Although gas is now selling for less than $2 a gallon across the state, he said the potential impact of drilling deserves serious review.

He said he expects the drilling study to cost about a $100,000.

Congress has allowed a moratorium on offshore drilling to expire. The federal government has since started taking public comment on drilling off Virginia's coast.

Governor-elect Beverly Perdue has been opposed to drilling, but her campaign said she would be open to the idea if a team of scientists said it was safe.

Linda Daves, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, said the study would be a waste of money since Basnight already is against offshore drilling.

"The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly support offshore drilling as one means among many to modernize our energy economy and move us toward a stronger, more secure future," Daves said in a statement. "What they don't support is politicians wasting their money to try to take options off the table as families struggle to pay the bills."

Driver Brian Whitacre said he welcomes the legislative study and said he hopes it opens the door for more energy options.

"I hope it pushes it to where we drill a little bit more off coast or in Alaska and keep it in just our economy," said Whitacre, a student at North Carolina State University.

The study comes at the same time University of North Carolina researchers are looking at the viability of harnessing wind power on the coast.


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  • tom547293 Nov 21, 2008

    Shep8815 I agree with you 100%. Gov't Panels and Hearings a just a smoke screen and political speek that nothing will be done.

    Now about the wind power thing. Has anyone wondered why T Boone Pickens was so much behind it? This man is BIG OIL and GAS.Wind power has to be backed up by some other power source such as GAS Turbines at 90% of wind capacity.

    The Beaches of NC survived the oil from the ship and tanker sinkings of WWII. The first 6 months of 1942 being the worst. I the drilling process was started today it would be 7 to 10 years be for the first barrel could be delivered.

  • shep8851 Nov 21, 2008

    There is an old, old axiom about government--if there is something you don't want done--create a committee. Make the members of that committee those who believe as you want them to, and bingo--nothing ever gets accomplished. No different here with Basnight and his anti-drilling clones.

  • nxtlvl4me Nov 21, 2008

    Worland – the oil naturally seeping through the crust around the world may very well represent the majority of the oil seeping into the ocean, but the difference is that the oil from rigs is at times an ocean surface issue and this oil can move and impact costal areas at a much greater intensity and rate than the seepage through the crust at the bottom of the ocean. Again, from just the Rita and Katrina hurricanes, the oil spill was large enough to be seen from space. The revenue we get from our tourism and fishing industry is, in my opinion just not worth risking!

  • nxtlvl4me Nov 21, 2008

    Whatusay – your assertion that “US produced oil can not be exported” is just not true! In fact oil EXPORTs out of the US increased to 1.806 million barrels per day as of this past May. We currently export 9 times what increased offshore drilling is estimated to produce at its peak. By the time the first offshore rig produced the first drop of oil, we’ll have exported 40% of the estimated reserves in protected areas offshore.

  • whatusay Nov 21, 2008

    seankelly15....sorry, but you are wrong. US produced oil can not be exported.. Must be used domestically in the U.S.

  • Worland Nov 21, 2008

    I hate to blow a huge hole in your hurricane theory, but recent studies at several Texas universities have shown that over 98% of the oil that washes up on shore seeped through the Earth's crust naturally. The amount of oil lost by the rigs and tankers during the hurricane season was insignificant as compared to the oil that leeched from the ground naturally.

    You can actually see natural gas bubbling to the surface just off the coast on NC. There is apparently enough natural gas off the NC coast line to supply the US for almost 25 years! Why not go get it? It's already bubbling up on its own. As is, the gas is just wasted... doing nothing more than putting more carbons into the atomosphere.

  • seankelly15 Nov 21, 2008

    New drilling will not lead to energy independence. Any new oil that is available will be sold on the world market. It will not affect the price of oil in the US one whit. The oil that is pumped in Alaska doesn't go to domestic oil production; it is sent to Asia.

    And, as for Alaska and Palin... she gave all of the money that should have gone into contingency funds to the people of Alaska. Now, with the drop in oil, she will have to develop new revenue sources to make up for the money distributed. Very short-sighted thinking.

  • Dad of 7 Nov 21, 2008

    The other day I said this in another blog..Take what you are writing on here and send it to your elected officials let them know how you feel..GOLO is a great place for passing thoughts and ideas on but your elected officials wont hear you if you dont tell them as well. the below link will take you to were you need to get started to write the people.

  • bill0 Nov 21, 2008

    The NC dems are going the wrong direction with this. They should have a committee, but they are studying the wrong question. The right question is "How do we get the natural gas and oil off our coast with the smallest environmental impact?" Eventually, we are going to drill out there. The key will be making sure we have safeguards and regulations in place before hand so the oil industry doesn't just get to make up the rules as they go.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Nov 21, 2008

    We don't need a governor, Marc Basnight runs the state himself. If he doesn't want off-shore drilling to impact his and his family's real estate on the coast, you can bet your last dime it will never happen. He's the Emperor of NC.