N.C. should lead way in energy exploration

From Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor:

High gas and energy prices are bruising our state's manufacturing, farming and tourism industries and hurting North Carolinians' ability to provide for their families. Meanwhile, many Raleigh politicians close the door on common-sense solutions.

I support a balanced conservation and energy policy that would seek environmentally friendly energy sources, invest in research for alternative fuels and explore for energy off our coast. This a will help us become energy-independent and transform North Carolina's economy.

As the Observer's Mary C. Schulken noted, [“Want prosperity? Drill for knowledge,” July 17 Viewpoint], Eastern North Carolina has higher unemployment and a lower per capita income than the rest of the state. Improving education is critical to bridging this socioeconomic divide. So is creating high-wage jobs, improving infrastructure and encouraging economic development – especially in the east, where the divide is painfully wide and the road to prosperity is full of dead ends.

While the effects of high energy costs exacerbate the problems, energy exploration offers a solution.

Americans have lined the coffers at OPEC with more than $200 billion just this year. All the while, the ticket to energy independence, economic development and education funding is well within our reach – but just too far offshore to see.

The Manteo Project is an area 45 miles off our coast. Studies indicate this area could contain as much as 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – the equivalent of 833 billion barrels of oil. Natural gas exploration doesn't present the potential for spills and would be piped to inland counties for processing. . Jobs would be created where they're needed most.

Lower energy prices will help tourism. The revenue created by exploration would help protect our environment, renourish our beaches and allow research for alternative energy sources.

North Carolinians can continue to spend billions of dollars a day on an unstable energy policy or we can end our dependence on foreign energy sources by encouraging conservation, investing in alternative energy technologies and tapping into American sources of energy like the Manteo Project.