News & Observer | Derrick Hollie | August 5, 2018

North Carolina has a chance to land a one-two punch of affordable and reliable energy and accessible new jobs – and its minority community needs its elected officials to stand up to support offshore energy development.

In North Carolina, 23 percent percent of African Americans and 27 percent of Latino residents live in poverty, and the offshore industry could be a lifeline to a better life for countless families.

A recent study predicts that within 20 years of leasing, North Carolina could see nearly 56,000 new jobs and $4 billion in annual contributions to the state’s economy as a result of energy development and exploration.

Likewise, too many low-income North Carolinians cannot afford to keep up with their energy bills. Take Jones County, the poorest households in this county – the ones below 50 percent of the federal poverty level – are spending close to 43 percent of their monthly income on energy costs.

There is no sufficient reason why North Carolina should not fight to ensure energy is affordable, reliable and accessible. North Carolina needs its elected leaders to step up and fight for this chance to better the lives of countless residents.

Derrick Hollie is president of Reaching America, an organization addressing complex social issues impacting communities and host of Reaching America on Demand podcast.

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