Offshore drilling: questionable reward, certain damages

Offshore drilling and exploration poses an unacceptable risk to the state of North Carolina.

In 2016, North Carolina tourism generated approximately $23 billion in economic activity, supporting 218,340 jobs and more than 45,000 businesses.

Of the top ten tourism counties in NC, three are on the Atlantic Coast – Dare, New Hanover, and Brunswick. These three counties combined generated more than $2 billion from tourism in one year. 

Any potential economic benefit to North Carolina from offshore drilling is uncertain, but the damage to tourism revenue could be insurmountable.

Developed Shorelines expert Rob Young studied offshore drilling and found that there wasn’t going to be a lot of economic benefit for North Carolina. Young noted that the nearby oil wells didn’t necessarily translate to lower energy costs.

However, offshore drilling causing oil spills is a real possibility and the costs associated with such an occurrence are clear.

The BP Oil Spill cost the gulf of Mexico’s commercial fishing industry as much as $1.6 billion…and that was just in the first eight months after the spill.

Offshore exploration has been shown to “dramatically” reduce catch rates for commercial fisheries. NC’s commercial fisheries are worth $95 million annually.

The likely damages that could occur if North Carolina took part in offshore drilling and exploration far outweigh the uncertain benefits that may never come to fruition.