Op-ed on offshore drilling by Duke University professor


The dangers far outweigh the benefits:

The existence or importance of climate change is questioned by many, especially those who like to drive big SUVs to the beach on weekends. About the only argument I can see holding any water will come from those well-heeled individuals who own coastal real estate or who wish to develop coastal areas for others to enjoy.

Lessons from the Deep-Water Horizon or Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are instructive. Phytoplankton biomass in Gulf waters was 85 percent lower after the oil spill. Some of the reduction might have been caused by the massive use of oil dispersants on the 5 million barrels of oil that flowed from the seabed. Lower phytoplankton biomass translates directly into lower fish and shellfish populations, which feed on phytoplankton.

Just want to add something often overlooked: Most people work from the assumption that land-based flora (trees, plants, etc.) provide most of our planet's new oxygen creation and carbon uptake. But in reality, about 60% of that function is performed by ocean microorganisms, plankton (both types) in particular. We screw them up, and there's no coming back. Here's something else the esteemed author left out of the conversation:

We can expect similar losses should a catastrophic oil spill occur off the Outer Banks. When German U-boats sank oil tankers along the North Carolina coast in World War II, oil persisted on the beaches for decades.

Much of the anticipated profit from offshore oil discoveries in North Carolina would flow to oil companies headquartered in other states. It is certainly not clear whether the local jobs created would pump more money into the coastal economy than what might be lost in the fisheries, recreation and tourist industries – even without a catastrophe. We should ferret out the influence of out-of-state corporate money when our elected officials consider offshore drilling. In fact, an energy policy committee of the General Assembly recently heard an update on drilling possibilities.

Bolding mine. Governor McCrory has already allowed the industry to take up shop in his own offices, an act that is so unethical it boggles the mind:

Based in the offices of its chairman, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, the Governors Coalition now includes member governors from nine coastal states. The group describes itself as the voice of these state leaders in their efforts to "foster a productive dialogue" with the federal government over the future of offshore oil policy.

However, an 18-month investigation by Facing South finds that despite its image of being a group of publicly-elected state officials, the Governors Coalition is largely run and managed by two groups tied to the oil and gas industry.

Drawing on thousands of pages of documents obtained through public records requests to the offices of Gov. McCrory and other officials, Facing South has uncovered new details about the Governors Coalition and its close but largely concealed ties to HBW Resources, a corporate lobbying and public relations firm representing some of the nation's biggest energy interests, and the company's sister group the Consumer Energy Alliance, a "dark money" nonprofit organization that doesn't have to disclose its backers. Our findings add to previous details about the groups' connections reported last year by the Center for Public Integrity.

I know this has been covered here at BlueNC several times already, but the mainstream media doesn't seem to be interested, so we will keep sounding the alarm until they get interested.