Wanted: A General Assembly to Lead NC to a Clean Energy Future

America’s first offshore wind project has received the final okay from the Department of the Interior last week after years of delay. The project, named Cape Wind, will be located off Nantucket Sound, MA, and once operational, will power 400,000 homes. The announcement from Secretary Salazar came just before the one-year anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Meanwhile back home, NC Republican legislators used the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster to promote offshore energy – but what kind? The bill, the Energy Jobs Act, would require the governor to develop a strategy with VA and SC to bring offshore exploration and drilling of oil and gas to our coast. While there is nod to renewables and efficiency in the bill, the focus is clearly on oil and gas. Because drilling off the east coast have been postponed until 2017 due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Republicans are trying to ready the state to drill baby, drill.

© Simon Lim/Greenpeace

The recent estimate that the Gulf oil spill could cost BP $21 BILLION should be enough for NC elected officials to consider a different path for our state’s energy future.

Bills introduced in this session of the General Assembly that could actually make a dent in global warming, site large renewable projects and reduce energy use include:

Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development Act

The NC Utilities Commission would require utilities to make long-term contracts for 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind to be built over a period of seven to ten years. The first off-shore project would have to start producing power by Dec. 31, 2017.

Efficient and Affordable Energy Rates Bill

The NC Utilities Commission would be required to design an inverted utility rate structure that would result in a reduction of energy consumption in our state of 40-60% of 2010 levels by the year 2021.

These two proposals alone could begin the much needed transition away from dirty fossil fuels that are not just polluting our environment, and wasting precious time to address global warming, but are making us sick.   A recent Harvard study shows “the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.”

So when oil spills cost $21 Billion and burning coal costs $500 billion a year, why aren’t our elected officials leading the path to a clean energy future instead?



  1. JeffS

    April 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I know there’s a lot of drilling proponents out there, but I’m just not seeing it.

    Worst case, we destroy our coastline and food supply for generations. Best case, we save a tenth of a penny per gallon?

    Someone please tell me what the upside is.

  2. Lisa

    April 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    The shorts-sighted thinking is that the royalties paid to the feds and state from the offshore leases will outweigh the risks associated with drilling. The Gulf of Mexico disaster shows how short-sighted this thinking really is.

  3. Elizabeth

    April 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    If Mr. Salazar hadn’t been so busy promoting Cape Wind, he actually might have been doing his job before Deepwater Horizon blew. Instead, people died while he smiled for a press conference announcing his personal approval of permits. The aftermath may never end, as crude and chemical dispersants ride across the food chain. The gigantic Cape Wind experiment should never happen in the extremely sensitive marine environment that is Nantucket Sound. As I write, half the population of critically endangered Atlantic Right Whales is foraging close enough to see clearly from Cape Cod beaches. Last year, about 100 were right in the proposed Cape Wind site. Over 10 lawsuits on behalf of these whales and other endangered species have to be hurdled before Cape Wind can begin ruining Nantucket Sound. Mr. Salazar clearly knows this. He also knows that just the mention of Cape Wind ignites high emotion. This press conference was probably just a well-timed media diversion from the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. A “big announcement” deflected attention from Salazar’s devastatingly poor performance overseeing the MMS (now BOEMRE). “Hey, Everybody, look what I can do!” It’s sadly political and transparent.

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