USA: North Carolina Senators Call for Drilling Offshore East Coast

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Some North Carolina senators want Gov. Bev Perdue to work with governors in neighboring coastal states to push forward with offshore energy efforts.

The bill, filed by Sens. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and Tommy Tucker, R-Union, would direct Perdue, a New Bern Democrat, to enter into a pact with the governors of Virginia and South Carolina to urge President Obama to open the East Coast for energy exploration.

Sponsors of the bill say that they’re hoping to explore natural gas off the coast of North Carolina and step up efforts to provide for wind energy.

“North Carolina’s coast has been identified as probably the best source for wind energy,” Brown said during a Wednesday press conference at the Legislative Building.

“We have a great opportunity to explore and determine if there are natural gas deposits off our coast,” Rucho said. He said if such deposits exist, it could create thousands of jobs for the state.

Rucho said that one of the goals of the bill is helping the ease the nation’s energy problem. He called the high gasoline prices in the nation an “economy buster.”

Molly Diggins, state director, of the North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club, said the effort to explore wind energy sounded good to her.

We certainly agree that there’s a tremendous energy bonanza off the coast in off-shore wind,” Diggins said.

But she wasn’t as enthusiastic about the possibility of opening up areas off the state’s coast for offshore drilling.

Offshore drilling remains high risk and low benefit,” Diggins said.

Bill sponsors hope that by forming a pact with Virginia and South Carolina, they can encourage President Obama and Congress to not only open the federal waters for offshore exploration but provide the state royalties if gas is found. Those royalties could come to about $500 million a year, Rucho said.

Money would go to the state’s general fund, the Highway Trust Fund, the community college system, the UNC system and to the state’s conservation programs. Some money would go to the state ports for expansion and to the recruitment of energy-related industries.

The senators rolled out their bill on the one-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Rucho acknowledged the coincidence and said that companies drilling for energy offshore had learned from past mistakes.

Sun Journal

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Posted on April 22, 2011, in AMERICAS, Drilling, Natural Gas, Oil & Gas - offshore, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on USA: North Carolina Senators Call for Drilling Offshore East Coast.

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