Graham says plan would boost state
An energy plan that centers around offshore oil drilling, nuclear power plants and hydrogen fuel cells would be a cash cow for South Carolina, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday.
South Carolina is poised to benefit from all three components of the plan, Graham said at a luncheon sponsored by the North Charleston Rotary Club.
Graham, R-S.C., was pitching a compromise energy plan unveiled Friday by five Republican and five Democratic senators, who have been dubbed the Gang of 10.
"From the South Carolina perspective, the coast of South Carolina is a cash cow," Graham said of the proposal to allow oil drilling 50 miles offshore. "Out there in American-controlled waters is a lot of oil and gas. So let's go get it."
The fact that no oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico leaked during Hurricane Katrina proves it can be done without environmental risks, he said.
Constituents are hammering him daily to do something about gasoline prices hovering around $4 a gallon, and further increases are inevitable as China and India increase demand, he said. The first step to lower prices is to open up more American oil reserves, including those off the coast of South Carolina, he said.
The second step is to reduce demand, and South Carolina could also take the lead there in two key areas, he said. The first is to move ahead with nuclear power, which includes recycling spent fuel rods, as France has done, he said.
"Surely we can be as bold as the French," Graham said.
The bipartisan bill calls for building a nuclear recycling center in the United States within a year. The Savannah River Site in Aiken would be ideal for the job, he said.
The bill also calls for tax credits to stimulate production and sales of hydrogen-fuel vehicles. Again, South Carolina is poised to take the lead, with nationally recognized hydrogen-fuel research programs in place, he said. Hydrogen fuel research is ongoing at the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State University and Savannah River National Laboratory.
"What we have going on in our backyard is really revolutionary," Graham said. "I would like to be the hydrogen center for the country. I would like South Carolina to be the Detroit of hydrogen without the crime."