Energy Forum Focuses on Offshore Drilling

To drill or not to drill. That was the discussion at a forum Tuesday in Elizabeth City over the possibility of drilling for natural gas off our coast. Currently, there is a federal ban on oil and natural gas drilling off the east coast of the United States. But it's possible Congress could pass legislation giving coastal states the right to decide for themselves.

The forum gave leaders across our state the chance to hear the pros and cons. Environmentalist Michael Owen from the Outer banks says, "We cannot drill our way to energy independence. We have to work on conservation; we have to be more conscience of how we are using our energy."

Virginia State Senator Frank Wagner, whose state is also confronting the issue, says, “You can't conserve your way out, it's a supply and demand, particularly in areas of natural gas, because natural gas is so vital to our farming communities. Fertilizer costs are going to the overhead, natural gas prices are going to the overhead, plastics chemicals across the board."

Earlier this month the House of Representatives dropped a proposal that would have given states the authority over future drilling decisions. Similar legislation is still under consideration in the Senate.