April 9, 2018
Board Hears Case for Offshore Drilling
By NEEL KELLER
OUTER BANKS SENTINEL
The Dare Board of Commissioners
listened respectfully to an April 3 presentation advocating for seismic
surveys and the possibility of offshore drilling off the North Carolina
coast, but remained convinced that it carried an unacceptable risk.
Speaking at the morning commissioners meeting, John Droz argued that,
"The only way that citizens and their representatives can make an
informed decision on such technical matters is to have an objective
understanding of all of the pertinent pros and cons."
At the end of his lengthy presentation, made to a board that has been
on record opposing offshore drilling, Droz generated polite, but firm
Vice Chairman Wally Overman appeared to speak for his colleagues when
he raised concerns about the likelihood of drilling close to the North
Carolina coast "at the precipice of our canyon,” adding that, “I can't
imagine a worse place to be drilling."
Droz, a Morehead City based anti-wind-power activist and founder of
Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions, calls himself a physicist and
citizen advocate. He has spoken to various governing bodies in coastal
North Carolina and, in one instance, was successful in changing the
Brunswick County Commissioners' decision to approve a resolution
opposing offshore exploration and development.
Asserting that such non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the Sierra
Club and Oceana start with a "political position" and then work
backward from there to find scientific support for it, Droz said his
aim was to "put some balance into the concerns that have been expressed
on this topic."
In response to the claim that seismic testing will result in serious
ecological damage, he said similar seismic surveys have resulted in no
consequential environmental problems and that wind turbines produce
more damage. Responding to idea that, with offshore drilling, "an oil
spill is inevitable," he presented reasons why he believes an oil spill
is extremely unlikely, citing advances in technology and safeguards and
declining rates of oil spills over the past 50 years.
Asserting that offshore drilling will not necessarily put the coastal
tourism industry at risk, he argued that offshore wind energy actually
poses a far greater threat to coastal tourism. He also stated that it
is not likely that more jobs will come from offshore wind energy than
from offshore fossil fuels.
In answer to assertions that there is not enough oil and gas off the
North Carolina coast to justify the risk and expense of offshore
drilling, he responded that this is something no one knows and is a
reason why another seismic survey is needed.
And in response tothe claim that fossil fuels can be replaced with all
renewable energy, he said this is impossible for multiple technical and
economic reasons. To illustrate, he pointed out that 7,700 wind
turbines are required to produce the same amount of energy as one oil
Concluding his presentation, Droz said, "It is clear we should embrace
careful and cautious exploration and development of our offshore fossil
fuel resources." Responding to questions, Droz said he primarily favors
conducting seismic surveys "so we can find out what's actually there."
His support of drilling would then be contingent on those findings.
Commenting on Droz's presentation, Commissioner Jack Shea said
proceeding with exploration and drilling seemed to him like "playing
Board Chairman Bob Woodard reviewed information indicating that much
more oil is available inland and production already outpaces refining,
pointing to the need to cut "red tape" and clear the way for more
Droz agreed with this, noting that the same "pushback" occurs with drilling for oil both inland and offshore.
Challenging assumptions that there would be major differences in the
presence of oil and gas off our coast now and when seismic testing was
last done, Woodard said he had more arguments he could raise, and "I
will ride this horse until it dies."
He also emphasized that the board has made its position clear many
times on the issue and that he remains "adamant" in his opposition to
seismic testing and drilling.