North Carolina's Republican majority wants Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue to join neighboring states in working toward offshore energy exploration it says would give the state the chance to cash in on energy royalties and create thousands of jobs in the long term.
Senate Republicans, holding a news conference Wednesday exactly one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, said the proposed "Energy Jobs Act" would ensure North Carolina doesn't fall behind in efforts to expand exploration for natural gas and oil in federal waters off the U.S. coast.
The bill introduced this week would direct Perdue to enter a compact with the governors of South Carolina and Virginia to develop a unified strategy for the federal government to hear exploration permits and proposals. They also would lobby together to get Congress approve a plan whereby states would share revenues from natural gas or oil production as they do on the Gulf coast.
While it couldn't come quickly, the offshore energy sector could create more than 6,700 jobs and $484 million in state and local revenues annually through 2030 if the state received the same royalty share that Gulf states receive, according to a 2009 report from the Southeast Energy Alliance, comprised of businesses, trade associations and nonprofits.
Experts believe waters off the North Carolina coast are home mostly to natural gas deposits and some oil.