02.11.05

Senators Burr and Dole Fight Offshore Drilling

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr today expressed concerns to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Domenici regarding the economic impact of oil and gas exploration off the coast of North Carolina.

"I am proud to lead the effort on the Republican side to ensure that any language that would negatively impact the economy of our beachfront communities stays out of this year's energy bill," said Senator Dole. "And I am pleased that my colleague, Senator Burr, has joined me in the U.S. Senate in addressing this important issue. We will continue to urge our colleagues to join this bi-partisan effort. Any exploration off our coast that would harm our tourism industry is bad for North Carolina."

"It is important that we honor the moratorium on exploration and drilling off the coast of North Carolina," said Burr. "Our coastal communities are vital to North Carolina's character and economy. As we move forward on comprehensive energy legislation, I will continue to work to protect North Carolina's coast."

Since 1993 coastal areas have been protected by a moratorium preventing drilling. Under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), authority over the coastal waters has been shared by the Department of Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the coastal states. The Senators' concern revolves around language that would grant authority to the Secretary of Interior over a broad range of oil and gas support facilities in the Outer Continental Shelf, which includes North Carolina's coastline. Centralizing authority to one department would undermine the decades of successful cooperation between the coastal states and federal agencies.

Background

Tourism is one of the largest industries in North Carolina. Last year, there were some 44.4 million visitors to North Carolina, ranking it the 6th most popular destination in the United States. Last year domestic travelers spent nearly $12 billion across the state, generating $2.2 billion in tax receipts, $1.1 billion in federal taxes, $687.7 million in state tax revenue and $399.9 million in local tax revenue.

During considerations of last year's energy bill, Senator Dole was the lead Republican in the group of Senators who worked to keep offshore drilling out of the final bill. Since 2001, as a member of the House of Representatives, Burr worked with Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) to keep similar language out of energy legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Burr sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The final bill that passed the House of Representatives rejected language that would have opened up scientific exploration of the outer continental shelf.