Local Politics

Offshore oil and water don't mix for some Currituck voters

Posted October 9, 2012

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— Gas prices are a tried and true election topic, and rising rates at the pump have prompted both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to push for oil and gas exploration off North Carolina's coast.

Such politics draw a wary eye from Currituck County residents, many of whom depend on tourism for their livelihoods.

"(The beach) is everything, and it needs to stay clean and protected," said Chip Workman, owner of the Winks of Corolla convenience store.

Drilling for oil off the coast is just too risky, Workman says.

"I can see where it would provide jobs, which is much needed, but still, the environmental impact is greater, in my opinion, than the benefit of it," he said.

Construction worker Randy Horst says offshore oil would lubricate the coastal economy when tourism is down.

"This place needs another source of income," Horst said. "The tourist trade, it's making us money, but with the economy down, it ain't making like it used to be."

He added that the oil is there for the taking, so why not take it.

"If we don't use it," he said, raising his hand above his eyes, "we're going to be paying up to here for something that's right there."

Currituck County sign Currituck voters uneasy with political push to drill

Steven Garrett, owner of the Corolla Cantina, isn't sure what exactly lies under the Atlantic Ocean offshore, but he says he's willing to explore.

"Geologists will get out there from the oil companies, and they'll be able to find what really is out there," Garrett said. "It'll be something they can tap into in the future."

Experts say no oil or gas could be produced from off the state coastline for at least a decade.

Some of Garrett's neighbors don't even want to look for fear of opening Pandora's box. If there's a spill or some other accident, they say, it would be like a rainy day at the beach – every day.

"It could happen. It could definitely happen, which is scary," said Greta Geis, who leads Jeep rides for Corolla Outback Wild Horse Tours.

"I assume that we would see large towers of metal out there, with a lot more ships than we're seeing now," Geis said. "You have to look at all aspects of it. You can't just look at it, like, 'OK, that's going to eliminate foreign fuels.' You have to look at it as it's also going to interfere with other people's lives."

Currituck County is prized for its wide, wind-swept beaches, which is why Workman sees wind energy production as more promising for the region than oil drilling.

"I think wind is just free. There's plenty of it," he said.

21 Comments

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  • dumbhick Oct 10, 10:54 a.m.

    Oil companies set oil prices. A simple look at the profit levels of Exxon shows that a "shortage" of oil means more profit for oil companies. No matter how many oil rigs are setting off our coast we will be at the mercy of the *multinational* oil industry until we move to an alternative fuel source(at which point we'll be at the mercy someone else).
    "Nation security" will only be enhanced by domestic drilling if the government takes over the rigs & refineries, and that is socialism. No matter what spin is put on it, domestic oil production will benefit the oil industry and the industries supporting it. It may mean more jobs in the area but many of those will be filled by people immigrating to the state because of the job growth. The average North Carolinian will gain very little, and believing that it will significantly reduce prices at the pump is pure folly. On the other hand a major spill would result in a serious setback for the Eastern economy, just like it did in the Gulf

  • Crabbit Cratur Oct 10, 10:41 a.m.

    "What I don't get is why people like Workman are so slow to pick up on the fact that if "wind" were a good answer, it would have been tapped long before now!"

    It has been used since Roman times......its only the era of cheap coal and oil that reduced its use. That era is over.

  • Crabbit Cratur Oct 10, 10:40 a.m.

    "Because the alternatives are not anywhere near to be ready. Look at the price. If oil was 5 times as expensive, it would STILL be cheaper than the alternatives."

    Really? source? And would our wind be subject to the vagaries of middle east politics? would we have to send billions of our money to corrupt foreign nations to get it?

  • Crabbit Cratur Oct 10, 10:37 a.m.

    "DRILL BABY DRILL…..just make sure it is not near ME, or affects MY water, MY vacations, etc…ME ME ME ;)"

    The rich don't even care about it being close to them....they can always move to their 5th home in Aruba.....

  • Crabbit Cratur Oct 10, 10:35 a.m.

    "So you would prefer to have thousands of giant fans up and down the beach killing birds than one oil rig out over the horizon?"

    Ah the Wind power towers are also well out to sea........and won't flood the Beachs and inlets with billions of gallon of Crude.

    " I'm sure Big Bird would approve, get rid of the competition for nest space!"

    Most birds cope with them fine.....oil not so much.

    "What I don't get is why people like Workman are so slow to pick up on the fact that if "wind" were a good answer, it would have been tapped long before now! Wind has been tried. It is NOT an emerging technology. The simple fact is it just doesn't work very well due to a series of limitations."

    LOl yeah the Romans tried steam power so the Victorians were wasting their time using it to build all those railroads and steamships......wind power is way past the point that it is experimental and is a perfect match with NCs use of Nuclear as a base load supplier.

  • The Yoda Oct 10, 9:33 a.m.

    "I assume that we would see large towers of metal out there, with a lot more ships than we're seeing now," Geis said

    So you would prefer to have thousands of giant fans up and down the beach killing birds than one oil rig out over the horizon? I'm sure Big Bird would approve, get rid of the competition for nest space!

  • DrJ Oct 10, 9:25 a.m.

    What I don't get is why people like Workman are so slow to pick up on the fact that if "wind" were a good answer, it would have been tapped long before now! Wind has been tried. It is NOT an emerging technology. The simple fact is it just doesn't work very well due to a series of limitations.

    I hate it when fear drives public policy. It wasn't all that long ago that these same people were frantic and flapping their arms over the use of nuclear energy. Yes there are risks with the production of ANY kind of energy. But how would any of us like it if we had to replace all of today's nuclear energy with dirtier substitutes??

  • WooHoo2You Oct 10, 9:06 a.m.

    Because the alternatives are not anywhere near to be ready. Look at the price. If oil was 5 times as expensive, it would STILL be cheaper than the alternatives.-hi_i_am_wade

    Um, like natural gas? It is at a 10 year low and a car can easily converted...

  • whatelseisnew Oct 10, 9:03 a.m.

    ""Why, oh why, do some people insist upon relying upon outdated, non-renewable technologies for our future?"

    Because at this time there is nothing else that provides an economical energy source. This is not just about gasoline. Higher energy costs impact the cost of everything else in a negative way. Food, Electricity, Government, Health Care, heating homes and buildings, RUNNING a hotel, and on and on. Everything has a higher cost point with higher fuel costs. On top of that, we are sending an unbelievable amount of money to the middle east. Higher energy cost negatively impacts employment. People that think supply does not have an affect on prices are simply wrong. Yes speculation and manipulation has an impact, but it becomes very difficult to speculate when there is a known ample supply. You need a perception if not a reality of limited availability in order for speculation to thrive.

  • WooHoo2You Oct 10, 8:52 a.m.

    DRILL BABY DRILL…..just make sure it is not near ME, or affects MY water, MY vacations, etc…ME ME ME ;)

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