OBX – As Gov. Roy Cooper panders to the environmental Left with his ‘Not Off Our Coast’ talking points, and even Republican community leaders in Dare County eagerly join him to fear monger about offshore oil and gas drilling possibilities, the real narrative on offshore energy development has always foreshadowed future chapters that include jobs and economic growth for North Carolina’s coastal regions.
A study conducted in 2014 by Moffat & Nichol looked at the issue of full navigability of the Oregon Inlet and the implications of such access for a range of different issues that would affect Dare County, from commercial fishing to future energy exploration and extraction.
“The location of Oregon Inlet could potentially lend itself to be useful should offshore drilling be developed in the future. While the shallow draft navigation channel limits the types and sizes of ocean vessels that can safely traverse the inlet, it could be useful for crew and maintenance boats which need to travel back and forth between land and ocean facilities. Based on conversations with industry experts, the authorized depth of the channel would have to be significantly deepened to allow construction equipment and supply vessels.”
So while opponents to drilling cite risks to industries like commercial fishing, a more careful analysis makes it evident that energy companies interested in harvesting those offshore resources would be incentivized to to maintain the navigability of the Oregon Inlet, and thus remove the inlet depth risks the fishing boats currently deal with year after year. Either the companies would get permitting and dredge the channel themselves, or the State would dedicate resources to keep it open and deep so as to reap the benefits of oil and gas revenues and business activity.
When profit motives and free markets are allowed to reign on principles of mutual exchange for mutual benefit, residents would likely find that the offshore drilling interests offer synergy with local interests in myriad ways.
Further, the study suggests the development of offshore oil and gas would be quite a boost to the local economies of Dare County and surrounding areas.
“However, operation and maintenance of these facilities would be expected to increase employment, economic output / business activity, and government revenues collected in Dare County and perhaps nearby counties hosting commuting employees. Offshore drilling could potentially provide a total annual economic impact of 3,983 jobs and $203.0 million to Dare County, 4,102 jobs and $210.2 million to the surrounding region (including Dare County), and 4,990 jobs and $348.7 million to the state of North Carolina (including Dare County and the surrounding region) if the inlet were fully navigable. Impacts were only calculated for a fully open scenario since the recent conditions of Oregon Inlet or an essentially closed inlet would preclude any use of the inlet for offshore drilling purposes.”
That’s nearly 4,000 jobs and $200 million plus for Dare County alone, with the inlet fully open. That would be quite the boost to an economy largely dependent on summer vacationers, and provide a massive incentive for the Oregon Inlet to be maintained at depth and benefiting other local industries as well.
Republicans like Dare County Chairman of the Board, Bob Woodard, may want to rethink what really endangers the future of our children on the coast – implausible, preventable, and exceedingly rare accidents, or actively campaigning against bringing thousands of skilled and complementary jobs and millions to the local economy.