Commentary

New report, editorial show direction NC should take on offshore energy

Yet another fine editorial weighed in yesterday on the absurdity of opening the North Carolina coast to offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling. The WRAL.com editorial (“Fossil fuel madness threatens coastal economy”) put it this way:

“There is little demonstrable need to embark on exploration for oil and gas off of North Carolina’s coast – as President Donald Trump has proposed. It is certainly not worth the very real risk to the crucial tourism industry that sustains the economy of many coastal families and their communities….

here is hardly a community on the state’s coast – regardless of the partisan make-up – that has not voiced opposition to the oil and gas exploration efforts. In Brunswick County, where more than a dozen municipalities have adopted resolutions opposing offshore drilling, five county commissioners are Republican. The commission wouldn’t take a stand against offshore drilling. A week ago it voted 4-1 not to deal with it at all – a vote that came two months after commissioners voted 3-2 to RESCIND a resolution supporting offshore drilling.

Gov. Roy Cooper has threatened to sue the federal government if the state isn’t made exempt from Trump’s drilling plan.

There are very real concerns over a disaster like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with a discharge of 4.9 million barrels of oil that caused billions of dollars in environmental damage and billions more in losses to gulf coast tourism.

The risks to the coast’s crucial tourism economy and vulnerable environment are far too great compared to the relatively meager payoff on the remote chance there is oil and gas worth going after.

What our state and local officials need to focus on is development of a far safer and less expensive energy resource sitting off the coast – the wind. It is a fact that North Carolina is the top state on the east coast for wind energy development.

Meanwhile, a new report released by the good people at Environment North Carolina echoes the editorial.  This from a release that accompanied “Wind Power to Spare: The Enormous Energy Potential of Atlantic Offshore Wind”:

“Offshore wind power could be the source of North Carolina’s clean energy future. Winds blowing off the North Carolina coast could provide 4.7 times the electricity each year than the state currently uses, according to a report released today by the Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center, and the Frontier Group. Even if North Carolina converted all activities currently powered by gasoline, natural gas, and other fossil fuels (like transportation and home heating) to electricity, the energy provided by offshore wind turbines could still produce 3 times as much power as we would use.”

The obvious bottom line: North Carolina must say “no” to offshore oil and gas drilling and “yes” to offshore wind.

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