Column: Don’t drill off S.C. coast

  • Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 8:58 a.m.

America can – and should – more fully tap into our abundant energy resources while protecting our environment. But that doesn’t’ mean we should “drill, baby, drill” off our state’s coast.

Unfortunately, though, many South Carolinians now support that misguided notion. For instance, Don Weaver, president of the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers, advocates offshore drilling here and appeals for South Carolina to follow Texas’ lead on promoting energy production. He hails the booming-economy fuel that flows from it in the Lone Star State.

However, the Palmetto State’s economy remains heavily dependent on tourism. And many of those tourism dollars flow into this state thanks to our relatively pristine coast.

Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill to offer drilling leases off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina and California. The legislation has scant chance of becoming law. And experts project that there isn’t much natural gas – or oil – off our state’s coast.

Yet drilling operations – and drilling accidents – would seriously jeopardize South Carolina’s top tourist attraction.

So you can – and should – be both for increased overall U.S. domestic energy production and against S.C. offshore drilling.

Yes, President Barack Obama is being shortsighted in his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico.

And though America – and the world – should take practical steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the “Climate Action Plan” that the president pitched last week sounds, due to its severe restrictions on coal plants, like a job-killing plan. Coal remains one of America’s most abundant natural resources. Abruptly, steeply and unilaterally reducing coal-powered electricity in this country while China and India keep steeply increasing their use of it would have negligible impact on global carbon emissions. But it would inflict severely negative consequences on a still-struggling American economy.

While President Obama has frequently boasted about a major boost in U.S. oil production during his White House tenure, that occurred despite – not because of – his administration’s policies. Oil permits and production on federal lands have dropped significantly over the past five years. It’s the drilling on private lands that has made the U.S. much less dependent on foreign oil.

None of that, though, warrants drilling off of South Carolina’s coast.

Again, there’s a common-sense middle ground of energy policies that balance utilization of our nation’s resources and protection of our environment.

And in our state, that economic balancing act should safeguard our thriving coastal tourist trade from the hazards of offshore drilling.

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