N.C. lawmakers to create offshore drilling panel

N.C. lawmakers to create offshore drilling panel

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 BY GARY D. ROBERTSON

 ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
  RALEIGH – The state Legisla­ture will study whether offshore drilling is feasible, a move that could put the state in a better position to respond if the federal government moves to allow more exploration.
  Senate leader Marc Basnight, who opposes drilling due to environmental concerns, said Thursday the changing views of President-elect Barack Obama and Gov.-elect Beverly Perdue toward drilling contributed to forming a study committee likely comprised of lawmakers and energy experts.
  “I have opened myself up to this review and this study,” Basnight, a Democrat from coastal Dare County, told reporters. “I believe we should be on a fact-finding mission, one that will provide the kind of information that is now lacking.”
  House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, also supports the joint House-Senate panel, spokesman Bill Holmes said. The committee isn’t likely to finish its work by the time the Legislature adjourns next summer but Basnight said it could present interim information to the General Assembly.
  The prospects for offshore oil and natural gas develop­ment grew this year as gasoline reached $4 per gallon. Congress in September lifted 27-year-old bans on oil and gas leases in federal waters off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. (more…)