If there is one nonpartisan issue that overarchingly impacts all coastal communities in South Carolina, it’s offshore drilling. Fiercely resisting any seismic testing and drilling is critical to the sustainability of our irreplaceable and precious ecosystem.
Pursuing this folly could decimate a swath of stakeholders and marine fauna and flora. So, what is the history of oil and gas pipeline mishaps and why are multiple concerns well-founded?
Since 1986, there have been more than 9,000 leaks in the United States. Aside from catastrophic spills and blowouts, numerous smaller spills accumulate and have an insidious long-term environmental impact.
Marine life, including birds, mammals, fish and shellfish, become infused with the oily contaminants floating on the sea surface. Birds and furry animals lose their water repellency and insulation. The entire food chain is thus polluted, resulting in chronic health issues, including cancer.
From an economic standpoint, the losses would be tremendous. In 2017, Greater Charleston had 6.9 million visitors who spent $7.37 billion. This tourist revenue paid for 47,000 related jobs generating $2.76 billion in wages, aside from additional state and local tax revenue.
Republican House candidate Katie Arrington initially supported President Donald Trump’s plan for expanding offshore oil exploration. She later rescinded this in a true Trump-like tradition.
Democratic nominee Joe Cunningham has consistently opposed offshore drilling and is now gaining support from both Republican and Democratic mayors along the coast and beyond.
This is probably the defining issue for our 1st Congressional District election in November, one that will affect the lifeblood and pulse of our state economy for decades to come.
David J. Waldron