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Nearly 30 groups in North Carolina have joined a coalition supporting more access to offshore energy opportunities in the Southeast.
The coalition, called Explore Offshore, is made up of more than 100 community organizations, associations, businesses and local leaders in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Virginia.
“Explore Offshore will bring North Carolinians across the state together who support expanded offshore oil and natural gas exploration and development, and understand its key role in a stronger economic and energy future,” North Carolina Petroleum Council Director David McGowan said in a press release.
Federal government projections reveal oil and natural gas will continue to make up over 60 percent of electricity use in America for at least the next three decades.
Offshore exploration and development are critical to North Carolina as 30 percent of its net electricity generation came from natural gas in 2017.
The average salary for oil and natural gas exploration and development jobs is $116,000 and the industry is expected to create as many as 56,000 new jobs in the state by 2035. Moreover, offshore development could lead to up to $3 billion in private investment into North Carolina with potential state revenues as much as $500 million a year.
“With the recent advances in technology and a robust regulatory regime that’s already in place, offshore exploration and development can be accomplished safely and responsibly without harming our beaches or our tourism industry,” Nat Robertson, Explore Offshore North Carolina chairman and former mayor of Fayetteville, said in a press release. “It is time we take this commonsense step for America’s energy future and explore offshore as part of an immediate comprehensive energy program. We all support expanding our energy portfolio to incorporate more renewable sources of energy as well, but to do that we need oil and natural gas to ensure energy remains affordable and reliable as this process unfolds.”