I want to express my opposition to Gov. Nikki Haley’s support of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s issuance of permits for offshore seismic testing and drilling for oil and gas reserves off the Eastern Atlantic Coast. Though Gov. Haley has said that opening our waters to drilling will boost the economy and create jobs, the effect could be quite the opposite. Has she considered the cost?
Economically, offshore oil and gas development would not be a boon to South Carolina’s economy. It could, instead, devastate our tourism and fishing industries.
Charleston has been named the No. 1 tourist destination for the fourth year in a row, due, in part, to our pristine coastal environment. Ecotourism, marine water sports and recreational and commercial fishing have brought the world to our door and strengthened South Carolina’s economy. These industries support nearly 79,000 jobs and generate over $4.4 billion in GDP each year.
From previous disasters, we know that an oil spill can devastate both the environment and economies of coastal states. Offshore oil and gas exploration and development create a host of detrimental effects on the environment, including impacts to fisheries, estuaries, wetlands, marine mammals, turtles, shellfish and seabirds.
Seismic testing alone disrupts whale, dolphin, turtle and fish migration, breeding, feeding and communication patterns and may cause severe physiological effects including hearing loss and even death. Clean energy sources can benefit the environment, promote innovation, create jobs and boost the economy.
Gov. Haley recently attended The Response: A Call to Prayer for Our Nation. I pray that she searches her soul and will move toward a metanoia, a change of consciousness, and oppose seismic sounding and drilling off our pristine South Carolina — and Atlantic — coast.
ALICE T. MORRISEY