Dauphin Island Talks About Offshore Drilling - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/11/05

Dauphin Island Talks About Offshore Drilling

To gain insight on how offshore drilling might impact Mississippi, it might be helpful to look East. Offshore drilling began in Alabama off of Dauphin Island more than 25 years ago. Danielle Thomas was on there on Tuesday asking people what it's like to have oil rigs as neighbors.

Whether they cast their lines for fun or for a living, fishermen on Dauphin Island agree that. their catch has grown since offshore drilling came to town.

"At first I thought it was not a good idea but it has helped the economy of Dauphin Island and particularly South Mobile County," said resident Wyman Wyers." It has improved the fishing. I doubt if it has improved the number of fish but they are congregated where you can find them."

It is unclear just how much wealth Alabama has found in offshore drilling since state officials combine revenue figures from offshore and inland oil wells. They did tell us that 90 percent of the taxes collected go into the general fund and 10 percent to local government.

Dauphin Island's mayor says its share runs about half a million dollars a year.

"They have been very helpful within our community as far as providing funding for our schools and other community type projects," said Mayor Jeff Collier. "There's always a trade off. Obviously you've got the rigs out there where you used to not have it. We have additional traffic, boat traffic, vehicular traffic, helicopters that service those rigs."

Collier says another drawback is that oil rigs aren't nice to look at especially in a place that relies on its beautiful beaches. That's the argument opponents of the rigs in Mississippi are making.

"Every community is different. Obviously one that relies heavily on tourism such as we do needs to take some considerations before making those types of decisions" he said. " I wouldn't want to make a decision for coastal Mississippi but certainly there are some pros and cons have to be looked at to make a decision for each community."

Mayor Collier says many people don't like the idea of drilling going on where they live. However, he believes the industry helps lessen the country's dependence on foreign oil.

by Danielle Thomas

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