Local Politics

N.C. delegates debate offshore drilling

Posted August 25, 2008 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2008 10:20 p.m. EDT

— Democrats are committed to making their week in Denver the greenest convention ever, pushing delegates to recycle and incorporating alternative sources of energy into events.

The use of wind and natural gas and the thoughts of lower fuel prices raise a question among some of North Carolina's 134 delegates: Should the state be able to explore and drill for oil off the state's coast?

"There is no way in the world that I, as a Democrat, would ever agree to drilling offshore, and I'm hoping I can convey that to all the Democrats in North Carolina," said Charles Johnson, a delegate from Rocky Mount who is attending his sixth convention. "We do not need our coastlines littered with oil droppings."

Ed Booth, who has spent his life near or on the water in Beaufort County, said he's concerned, but he understands the nation's focus on energy.

"I don't have a problem with offshore drilling if they find out it is environmentally safe and it does not hurt the fishing industry, especially in North Carolina," Booth said.

Booth is open to new ideas, as is 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge.

"We need a Manhattan Project or a moon-type project, so to speak – it's got to have a 10-year goal – to put the United States back in control of our destiny. We can't be in control of our destiny if the only thing we do is drill," Etheridge said.

The Lillington Democrat said the next administration should expand the focus on biofuel production, noting North Carolina State University scientists already are heavily involved in such research.

"One of the things we have to be careful about (with offshore drilling) is (that) they call the North Carolina coast the 'graveyard of the Atlantic' for a reason," he said.