Pat McCrory Swims in Motor Oil
By Nathaniel Brooke '15 May 2014
North Carolina is not known for its oil. Instead, it’s known or its shifting politics and its incredibly popular beaches. While these two attractions have coexisted for the past two years, recent government policy has brought them into conflict. The NC legislature, spurred on by Governor Pat McCrory, has begun a massive push to allow offshore drilling in the state. Thanks to this effort, three years from now oilrigs may begin covering our beaches with black goo and toxic sludge. McCrory’s decision has put the coastal population on edge. Powerful coastal enterprises have begun a massive retaliation against the McCrory regime and its support of offshore drilling. McCrory and his plans must not be allowed to continue. The United States and North Carolina should not support offshore drilling on the North Carolina coast because offshore drilling could harm endangered species and destroy our vibrant coastal economy.
Before the oil companies can begin drilling, they must conduct tests to find the exact location of the oil reserves. To find the oil, companies use seismic testing, in which they use an air gun to blast loud sounds through the water and bounce them off the ocean floor. Whales and dolphins are caught unawares by the sudden loud noises, and their ears are permanently damaged. Soon after, many of these dolphins and whales show up dead or beached. Studies find that 27,000 dolphins and 4,600 whales could die right off the coast if offshore drilling is allowed. The USA and North Carolina have a responsibility to protect these species. We cannot give our support to offshore drilling because the seismic testing required to find the oil would kill endangered species.
As drilling offshore grows, so does the risk of a major oil spill occurring right off the NC coast. Any oil spill on the Atlantic seaboard would be disastrous, because any major east coast spill would cover beaches from Georgia all the way to New York with thick, black oil and tar balls. Worse still, we cannot get the oil back out of the water. Our current cleanup methods leave most of the spilled oil behind in the water. An oil spill would decimate our beaches and sounds for decades, crushing fish populations and sending some species into extinction. We should not risk our pristine coast to drill for oil.
One of the state’s most important assets is the massive economy associated with our pristine beaches. Tourism, boating, and fishing, all of which would be severely damaged by offshore drilling, directly support 56,000 jobs in North Carolina and indirectly support thousands more. Our state currently attracts beachgoers from across the East Coast and the Midwest to its barrier islands. If those beaches are destroyed, the coast will lose almost all of its income. The risk to our tourist industry is already huge. Offshore drilling doesn’t have to cause an oil spill to destroy these vital coastal economies. Offshore drill wells produce volumes of mud and water that contain toxic chemicals such as mercury, lead, benzene, arsenic, and radioactive material. Each well dumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of this polluted water and mud into the ocean every day. These pollutants show up in fish, rendering them inedible. Pollution from the normal operation of oil wells will make the fish inedible and the beaches disgusting, and the massive tourism industry in North Carolina will disappear.
North Carolina is not known for its oil, and that is how it should be. Instead it is known for its beaches, and its government that is trying to destroy them. If offshore drilling continues in North Carolina, it will show the people that their draconian government cares more about appeasing out-of-state oil interests than protecting the people and economy of North Carolina. When we decide what to do next, we must remember the wise words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, B.S. M.S. M.A. Ph.D. Sc.D.: “The worst tasting jelly is petroleum jelly.” Don’t let McCrory ruin our beaches.