Perdue discusses oil spill

Published 4:13 am Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Staff Writer

As Gov. Beverly Perdue made her way through eastern North Carolina on Monday, she was concerned with various worries of the region’s residents, worries such as building up the local economy and the BP oil spill and its possible impacts on the North Carolina coast.
“We need to build up the small towns and the economy around the area, as well as the stores in these towns. That’s what it’s all about,” Perdue said while at the Bayview ferry terminal next to the Pamlico River.
Later, Perdue traveled on the Bayview-Aurora ferry route to Aurora. Before she crossed the river, she briefly talked about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Louisiana, saying her concerns now are the same as they have always been, with those concerns including having a safe area that is environmentally sound.
“The Gulf Coast is particularly a nightmare right now,” Perdue said. “It is the most single serious environmental accident that I have seen in my lifetime, and none of us know exactly what’s going to happen.”
Perdue commented on the dispersants used to break up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico, expressing concern about their impacts on marine life and nursery areas for marine life, including finfish and shellfish.
“It’s really hard, and we are beginning to believe that fishermen crews will be coming up from the Gulf Coast waters to fish in our waters,” she said. “Another whole thing to be concerned about is our resources and how limited they are. But we are hopeful that the current (Gulf Stream) doesn’t bring it up around the tip of Florida to the East Coast.”
Perdue said if that happens, North Carolina has the resources to respond to damages caused by the oil spill.
“We had an oil disaster plan already on file after the Exxon Valdese,” Perdue said. “But as I looked at it and after some of our other people reviewed it as well, we noted that there needed to be some updates to the plan for 21st-century technology. So, we are in the process to have it back by the Aug. 1.
“But we also have hurricane disaster plans in motion as well. And if they come, and I pray none do, we have to be ready for anything at any time.”
Perdue said North Carolina has one of the best emergency-management systems in the country, one that other states use as a model to help them develop their own plans.
“We have so many hurricane instances, and we know how to work them,” she said. “All the way from the local fire and EMS to the state’s FEMA organization.”
As the incident in the Gulf of Mexico draws attention to offshore drilling near states like Louisiana, Perdue talked about drilling off the coast of North Carolina.
“Even during the governor’s campaign in 2008, I didn’t back down and I was very direct, because back then it was the ‘Drill, baby, drill’ mentality,” Perdue said. “And I never embraced that mentality. I said if I were elected I would appoint a group of scientists and researchers to understand the waters along the coast to tell me if it’s environmentally sound and safe to see if drilling can be done safely — including what will be done if a well blows, which is obviously the problem in the gulf right now.”
Perdue said that even if offshore drilling could be done safely, she wants to know if there is a benefit for the state. Currently, Perdue said, she sees no financial gains for the state.
“And that seems to me that we’re taking all the risks, but not having the opportunity for any of the benefits,” Perdue said. “I haven’t totally closed it off, and I think everyone who’s seen this oil spill understands a little bit better from where I was coming from. You can’t just say ‘Drill, baby, drill’ without thinking about the consequences. And what’s happened in the Gulf Coast is a huge consequence for those that live there and future generations.”