Remember all the talk about off shore drilling on North Carolina coasts? Back when gas prices were $4 a gallon, and many of us had to wait in lines to fill up our tanks, off shore drilling became a hot topic. Then gas prices came down, and all the sudden drilling for more oil was put on the back-burner. Or so we thought. A panel set up by Gov. Bev Perdue has met for the first time last Tuesday to weigh the pros and cons of drilling on our coast. The people of North Carolina, however, have made up their minds about drilling according to this Civitas poll.

Who is on the semi-secrative panel? The 15 members are being led by retired State Supreme Court Judge Willis Whichard. The panel also  includes Raleigh businessman Dean Painter, former Sierra Club lobbyist and former DENR Secretary Bill Holman, Kitty Hawk Mayor pro tem Gary Perry, Texas-based engineering consultant Ken Arnold, Dave Owens from the UNC CH Institute of Government, nuclear engineer Orlando Hankins from St Augustine College, Carl Wilkins (renewable and energy efficiency expert from Raleigh-based Quanta Technology), potential state Senate candidate Jim Leutze (former UNC CH history professor, UNCW chancellor emeritus), and two soil scientists – NC Farm Bureau Environmental Affairs Director Anne Coan and Larry Baldwin who is the vice president for Land Management Group.  There are only a few scientific heavy hitters with PhDs among this group, namely Pete Peterson (marine biologist at UNC CH IMS), Margery Overton (civil and coastal engineer at NCSU), Stan Riggs (geologist at ECU), and Doug Rader (chief ocean scientist at Environmental Defense Fund).