Wilmington residents react to offshore drilling

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- With an eye on high gas prices, President Bush is urging Congress to lift a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling.

"Congress must face a hard reality. Unless members are willing to accept gas prices at today's high level or higher. Our oil must provide more oil and we must start now," said President Bush.

According to Bush, the drilling could eventually yield 18-billion barrels of oil.  He said that could sustain the United States for ten years.

Local environmentalists don't want to see drilling platforms along our coast.  They said it will be years before oil is produced and the drilling platforms will threaten tourism and fishing industries.

The president's plan is getting mixed reaction from people in the Wilmington area.

Some local drivers said to do whatever it takes to lower gas prices, but others said to look for an alternative.

Congress would have to approve any drilling off the coast, and North Carolina lawmakers aren't enthusiastic.

Representative Mike McIntyre opposes lifting the moratorium.  The Democrat is joined in that view by Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Republican Senator Richard Burr is lukewarm and said states should make the decision.

For now, the coastal view won't change, but oil drilling on the coast is a possibility.

Reported by Sarah Warlick