Sentinel Progress

Off-Shore drilling a bad idea

Dear editor,

As a citizen of Pickens County and on behalf of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, I am writing in response to the letter Pickens County House Representative David Hiott wrote to the Interior Department in support of offshore seismic testing and drilling for oil. Representative Hiott’s letter cites jobs and revenue but ignores science and common sense.

When America and the world is running from oil to clean energy, I’m puzzled why anyone would risk South Carolina’s booming tourism economy.

Some say we should see what’s out there. I say not a lot has changed under the ocean floor since testing was done 38 years ago with basically the same technology. Based on national consumption rates, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates that only a 20-day supply of oil and less that a 25-day supply of natural gas would be found off the three states of S.C., Ga., and Fla.

The real kick in the gut is that data from seismic blasts will belong exclusively to the big oil companies. We are left to take their word for it. Is this sound judgment to trust our future to the oil industry?

Sounds from seismic blasts can travel 2500 miles underwater and are repeated every 10 seconds for months. These blasts are loud enough to threaten the survival of sea mammals like whales and dolphins.

In addition, commercial fishermen have reported up to 80 percent reductions in their fish catches as a result of destructive oil exploration technology.

It is time everyone knows the impacts and understands one inevitable fact; it is not a matter of IF a spill or leak occurs, but WHEN and HOW MUCH the rigs, pipes, and tankers soil forever the sands and estuaries and livelihoods of our Coast.

Some say South Carolina needs to help our Country be energy independent. I say why give profits to big oil while we take all the risks, especially since in some weeks of the year, the United States exports as much as one million gallons of oil per day.

South Carolina’s coastal tourism economy accounts for 600,000 jobs and $20 billion annually.

The American Petroleum Institute’s best projected oil revenue for the state is $3 billion from now until 2035. Everyone remembers the BP Deepwater Horizon rig fire and spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It lasted three months with 184 million barrels spilled, 26,000 jobs lost immediately and a 4.5 billion fishing industry harmed.

It’s not surprising that every local government on our Coast officially opposes dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. But this is not just about our Coast. It’s a “who we are” issue. It’s about our values and our legacy for future generations.

Governor Henry McMaster is asking the Trump Administration to exclude South Carolina from BOEM’s offshore drilling plan. In his State of the State, he reminded us that “We cannot stop hurricanes, but we can avoid oil spills. We cannot take a chance. We must do whatever it takes to preserve this economic paradise we call the beach, the marsh, the coast and the Lowcountry. It is made of gold.”

We all know “oil and water”’ don’t mix; we cannot have both. Once the genie is out of the bottle, you cannot put it back.

Rick Huffman

SC Native Plant Society Founder