State News

N.C. Dems want to stay away from offshore drilling

Posted August 11, 2008 5:55 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2008 6:25 p.m. EDT

— While gas prices around the Triangle are falling, politicians are trying to figure out a way to keep fears of $5 a gallon from becoming reality.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Richard Burr, R-N.C. are calling for offshore drilling, including the possibility of tapping into oil reserves 60 miles off North Carolina's coastline. Doing so, they say would help maintain the price of gasoline and limit foreign dependency on the natural resource.

And although Rep. Bob Etheridge, D- N.C., isn't opposed to the idea, he does not think drilling off North Carolina's shores should be the first option.

"There are 68 million acres available on- and offshore and in places where they actually have infrastructure to move it in the Gulf."

Rep Brad Miller, D-N.C., agrees, saying the U.S. should drill in places like the Gulf of Mexico, where oil companies already have leases to drill offshore.

But as far as drilling anywhere off North Carolina, Miller says doing so would be a bad idea because of the environmental costs of offshore drilling aren't worth the savings at the pump.

"A serious spill would be disastrous for North Carolina's tourism and four our fishing industry," he said.

Proponents of offshore drilling say environmental worries are overblown. Dan Mansell, who is running against Etheridge in the U.S. Second District says he is in favor of offshore drilling and supports Dole's position on lifting a 27-year federal moratorium on Atlantic Drilling.

Proponents also point to the fact that states like North Carolina would get part of the lease revenue from offshore drilling, which could be used to improve beaches and the coastline.