There might be no Kure for North Carolina’s off-shore drilling problem.
One of eight potential planning areas for drilling — as part of the national 2017-22 Oil and Gas Leasing Program — will be off the coast of Kure Beach, North Carolina. This plan, if approved, would drill about 80 percent of the estimated undiscovered, technically available oil and gas resources within the United States.
Residents of Kure Beach are concerned for a drilling accident that could parallel the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.
David Rogers, state director of Environment North Carolina, said this plan has downsides if it is approved.
“Number one, there is a multitude of marine mammals and fish species that rely on this area,” Rogers said. “Number two, this area relies on tourism and people come from all over the world to visit our beaches. The possibility of a spill will be devastating and destroy the tourist industry.”
Steve Ross, a research professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said the geology of the area is also important to consider when thinking about drilling.
“Drilling in the Gulf Stream, in hurricane zone and in deep water, is risky,” Ross said. “Drilling in high currents and deep water is dangerous and the possibilities of accidents can go up.”
Economically, off-shore drilling could also jeopardize the coastal areas of North Carolina and ruin economies if an accident were to occur.
“The coastal North Carolina economy is based on tourism and vibrant fishing economy,” said Mike Giles, a coastal advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “An accident would affect the entire east coast of North Carolina, so over 100 municipalities on the east coast have come up opposing off shore drilling.”