When the oil rig that exploded in April off the coast of Louisiana poured millions of gallons of black gold into the Gulf of Mexico, it also muddied the water for those aching to drill for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean. With a Democratic president’s backing, offshore exploration had seemed a good bet. Now, the urge to “Drill, baby, drill!” in the Atlantic has been tempered by the specter of spill, maybe spill.
Proponents still say offshore resources should be developed, with greater safeguards, to lessen dependence on foreign supplies and benefit the state. The Southeast Energy Alliance, a business trade group, says offshore energy development could create 6,700 jobs and bring North Carolina up to $577 million a year in federal revenue sharing. Critics say any economic benefits aren’t worth the threat to the state’s beaches and coastal communities, which depend heavily on tourism. The Gulf disaster provided hard evidence of the damage that drilling can do.
FEDS target XE
Activities at a military-style training compound near Moyock continue to draw legal fire — this time from federal prosecutors. Five former employees of Blackwater USA, now known as Xe Services LLC, face charges in the handling of rifles, machine guns and other weapons at the 7,000-acre training center. A federal indictment claims employees illegally purchased two dozen automatic weapons and also covered up the gift of firearms to the king of Jordan during a visit. The company, which is fighting a lawsuit by former employees who claim it defrauded the government with phony and questionable invoices, was not named in the indictment. Defendants include former President Gary Jackson. His attorney said in a federal court hearing that government officials were aware of what was happening.KINSTON — MasterBrand Cabinets plans to add 334 jobs within three years, bringing local employment to more than 530. The Jasper, Ind.-based manufacturer is adding product lines and will start hiring this summer. Salaries for the new jobs will average $25,787 a year.