Offshore drilling may play well in the Upstate, but Tim Scott obviously didn’t run the idea past many beach residents.
They would have told our new U.S. senator to just “Chill, Baby, Chill.”
Scott told The Post and Courier’s Robert Behre last week that he’s preparing legislation that would allow private companies to survey and drill for natural gas and oil off the coast of South Carolina.
That is so 2008. But apparently there are no new ideas in politics — the U.S. House just last month passed the “Offshore Energy and Jobs Act,” which would allow companies to plant oil rigs three miles off the coast.
The only job here is a con job.
The distance between the Battery and Fort Sumter is about 4 miles. Three miles is pretty close, and well within sight of our pristine beaches.
So as you might imagine, the mayors of our barrier islands are not real keen on the idea.
Sun, sand and oil rigs
Ask Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin how his folks would feel about oil rigs off the Edge of America, and he doesn’t have to think long.
“They would not be happy with it,” Goodwin says.
It’s hard enough to get the feds to renourish Folly’s beaches, which they should do since their harbor jetties exacerbate the erosion. So you can’t blame islanders if they don’t want the precious little sand they have to be covered in tar balls.
“Everything I see says there’s nothing out there to drill for, so why would you even risk polluting our water and fisheries?” Goodwin says.
Good point. But even if there’s not enough gunk out there to cause “Deepwater Horizon: South Carolina,” it’s just the aesthetics of it all.
“You have to realize how much the islands are built on tourism,” says Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin. “Oil rigs or wind mills in sight of the beach don’t say ‘tranquility.’”
No, they say industrial park.
And nobody vacations in industrial parks.
Going to a dry well
To be fair, Scott’s bill would require drilling platforms to be at least 25 miles from the coast.
But the House — which hijacks everything these days — would allow drilling 3 miles from shore. That’s why U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, who used to live on the beach, voted against it.
Well, that and the state would have no control over it.
As you may recall, Folly Beach is a local host of those Hands Across the Sand events — those demonstrations to end our dependence on dirty fuel.
Scott says he wants to end our dependence on foreign oil. So there is common ground.
But drilling isn’t the answer. The Middle East has sort of cornered the market on oil, and there’s not enough offshore — or in Yellowstone — to give America its oil fix.
The real solution is coming up with an alternative fuel source. The problem here, as Republicans know, is that alternative energy is not real popular with their base. Just too complicated.
Well, this is simple: Risking the state’s top economic engine — our beaches — for oil and gas that experts say isn’t there, is not good business. It’s bad politics.
And that’s all it is.
But a lot of people will keep chanting that stupid Sarah Palin tagline, never bothering to notice they are pumping a dry well.
You know, it’s too bad hot air can’t power a car — South Carolina would be the new United Arab Emirates.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to his live chat today at noon at www.postandcourier.com