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Poll: Residents Worry About Offshore Drilling

RALEIGH – A majority of North Carolina residents are concerned about the federal government’s plan to begin drilling for oil and natural gas off the state’s coast and the risks it poses to the environment and the economy, according to a new poll.

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey July 21-23, in the days following Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement June 20 of his plan to oppose offshore drilling expansion along the Atlantic coast. PPP conducted the survey on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council and released the results Thursday.

“This sends a strong message to Washington. The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly oppose offshore drilling,” said Franz Matzner, deputy director of federal campaigns, Natural Resources Defense Council. “They’re worried about losing jobs, tourism income, and losing value in their homes. They’re also concerned about the environment. For every resident who’s willing to make the bad gamble with offshore drilling, there are two more residents who prefer investing in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

According to the results, seven out of 10 North Carolinians are either “very concerned,” 51 percent, or somewhat concerned,” 19 percent, about offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina.

Also, 56 percent of residents surveyed are “very concerned” and another 16 percent are “somewhat concerned” about the risk of an oil spill.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed, or 77 percent, said the tourism-related economic downturn from an oil spill on North Carolina beaches would be harmful, including 58 percent who say it would be “very harmful.”

A clear majority, 64 percent, said they were concerned that an oil spill in North Carolina coastal waters would threaten either their job or that of a loved one or reduce the value of their home.

More than one out of five North Carolina respondents, or 21 percent, said they work in or near the coastal area of North Carolina. These individuals are considerably more likely, 48 versus 36 percent, than those living elsewhere in the state to be “very concerned” about the danger offshore drilling poses to jobs and housing prices.

Nearly one in five North Carolinians, or 19 percent, say their job or place of business depends on the ocean or beach tourism economy. They are considerably more likely, 51 percent versus 36 percent, than those feeling no such connection to the ocean or beach tourism economy to be “very concerned” about the danger offshore drilling poses to jobs and housing prices.

“The voice of North Carolina residents comes through loud and clear in these findings and with a remarkable degree of unanimity,” said Jim Williams, Research Director for PPP. “Anyone who is going to consider getting behind offshore drilling in the waters off this state needs to take heed of these findings in order to understand just how far out of step they are with the public.”

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.