Local Politics

Perdue creates panel to study offshore drilling

Posted September 21, 2009 10:39 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Beverly Perdue on Monday established an advisory panel to study the prospect of drilling for oil and natural gas off the North Carolina coast, as well as the possibility of generating renewable energy offshore.

“The North Carolina coast is home to an abundance of natural resources, some of which have the potential to be tapped as energy sources. As we research this potential for national and state use, I intend to make sure sound science and a thorough examination of the risks and benefits drive our decisions,” Perdue said in a statement. “It is imperative that North Carolina have the opportunity to share in the profits and not limit our options to pursue alternative energy solutions such as wind power.”

The Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy will analyze and report on the feasibility of tapping offshore energy sources and will identify the benefits and areas of concern about these energy resources, she said. Members will study current laws, rules, processes and procedures that affect the use of offshore energy resources, such as federal leasing programs, state and federal permitting programs and local zoning and ordinances. Also, the panel will evaluate federal proposals to use North Carolina’s offshore energy resources, including any proposals from the U.S. Minerals Management Service for offshore oil and gas lease sales.

Perdue said she also sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, questioning the proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010–2015. She said there is little information on which coastal areas are under consideration for energy exploration, and the federal government has not resolved the issue of revenue sharing for North Carolina and other East Coast states. She also said the planning process doesn't include possible renewable sources of energy offshore.