State Senators’ Oil Bill Would Put NC’s Coastal Tourism and Fishing Jobs at Risk
North Carolina Republican senators today moved to put North Carolina’s coast at risk to oil spills on the one-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster despite the harm witnessed to life in and around the Gulf of Mexico, said the Southern Environmental Law Center. The bill (S709) would redirect efforts away from alternative energy and force the state’s governor and agencies to adopt a pro-oil drilling position.
“While it serves the interests of big oil companies, this bill risks North Carolina’s people, coasts, and vibrant fishing, seafood and tourism industries to the same devastation still unfolding in the Gulf from the deadly BP blowout and oil spill one year ago,” said Derb Carter, director, Carolinas office, Southern Environmental Law Center. “This big oil bill would hook North Carolina’s energy future to the oil companies while the rest of the country moves forward with innovative clean energy.”
Like communities along the Gulf Coast before last year’s oil spill, North Carolina is famed for its beautiful beaches, fishing, and seafood. According to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, finfish and shellfish landings brought in $77 million in 2009. In 2010, North Carolina was the sixth-most visited state in the country with 36.8-million visitors in 2010, who according to the U.S. Travel Association, spend more than $46.6 million per day in the state and contribute nearly $4.1 million per day in state and local tax revenues as a result of that spending. North Carolina’s travel and tourism industry directly employed 185,500 North Carolinians in 2010.
“To the extent this drill bill puts tens of thousands of jobs in the state’s coastal tourism and fishing industries at risk, I guess the senators could call it a jobs bill,” said Carter.
Gulf Coast communities, the seafood industry and tourism are still recovering, and spilled oil still darkens marshes and beaches while BP and other oil companies repeat their claims that operations like the Deepwater Horizon will have little or no negative impact on life. Recent press reports indicate that oysters in the Gulf have been devastated, as many as one in three crabs that are pulled up die before boats can reach the dock, and Gulf shrimpers are still pulling up oil in their nets. Scientists are investigating unexplained and unhealed wounds on red snapper caught by fishermen in the Gulf.
Systemic problems with oil drilling and the oil industry that the Presidential Oil Spill Investigation Commission identified as leading to the disaster remain unfixed a year later. Instead, big oil companies resume risky drilling under similar assurances that their operations have no potential for significant environmental impact, including an oil spill.