CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- As state leaders look for ways to boost the economy, one NC State professor is weighing the pros and cons of offshore drilling and the effects it may have in North Carolina.
Fishing and tourism are two multi-million dollar industries in North Carolina, but Dr. Mike Walden's new study says there could be even more money to be made if the coastline had a slightly different view featuring drilling wells.
"There is new technology that allows oil companies and drillers and energy developers to access reservoirs of energy that they couldn't access earlier with previous technology. That's one reason. The other reason is price. With the price of oil hovering close to $100 a barrel, it makes economic sense," Walden said.
Over a 40-year period Dr. Walden says drilling off of the coast could become a $2 billion a year industry creating close to $17,000 jobs. But his report also shows that it could cost fishing and tourism as much as $83 million per year in coastal communities that depend on those industries part of their economy.
"In 2011, which is the most recent numbers that we have, tourism supplied New Hanover County with 5,100 jobs and supported a payroll of over $94 million," said Connie Nelson with the local convention and visitors bureau. "Tourism in New Hanover County ranks No. 9 in the 100 counties in North Carolina, and we're very proud of that."
Despite the fact that his report showed that offshore drilling would be a multi-billion dollar industry in the state, Dr. Walden says that it is up to federal and state lawmakers to weigh the pros and cons of offshore drilling off of our coast.