In the late 1960s, oil and gas exploration flourished in the shallow depths of the continental shelf off Louisiana. Oil companies, given permits to drill by Bureau of Land Management of the Interior Department, were genuinely concerned about the potential ecological impacts that drill cuttings, drill fluids and possible oil spills could have on marine ecosystems. These oil companies funneled funds to create the Gulf Universities Research Consortium that financed the Offshore Ecology Investigations, supporting research of several professors in academia, and I was one of the recipients.
The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, while exploring economic benefits of fracking in three land counties for methane extraction for energy and in the future in offshore areas if the moratorium on drilling is lifted, should recommend to create the model used off Louisiana and develop a “Triangle Universities Research Consortium.”
State funds were allocated to support the Duke-UNC consortium-operated R/V Cape Hatteras, but now that this ship was withdrawn last year from academic fleet, this consortium was dissolved.
Nevertheless, it would be appropriate to introduce a bill to create and support a Triangle consortium and also compete for funds to get a new National Science Foundation research ship (now under construction) for North Carolina.
Robert Y. George