GREENVILLE, N.C (WNCT) – North Carolina economic leaders gathered in Greenville for a talk about offshore energy.
North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla was among those in attendance.
Environmental advocates worry that going after offshore drilling could hurt marine life, jobs and tourism.
Environment America said the Atlantic states require on healthy ocean ecosystems to create billions of dollars in gross domestic product and that would be in jeopardy with offshore drilling. Some of that comes from those employed in the fishing industry.
Randal Luthi, CEO of National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), compared the plans to Gulf of Mexico saying tourism is one of that area’s major economic factors and the two can co-exist.
Fishing might stand to benefit because artificial reefs are formed by the rigs.
NC East Alliance President John Chafee commented on local concerns about the rigs ruining the view.
“The closest in shore they would be is 50 miles, so there would be no visible trace of exploration along the coast,” Chafee said “So if I am sitting at a beach house on the coast and I am looking out over the horizon, there won’t be any visible evidence that oil or gas exploration is taking place.”
“I think there’s an opportunity for a lot of different communities and places to be able to share in terms of the opportunity that would exist,” said Chafee.
Before drilling can take place, there has to be seismic testing and permits from the federal government.
The Obama administration will release its draft plan to for drilling on the Atlantic Coast early next year.
It will then be up for public comment.
The oil and gas leasing program would cover 2017 through 2022.