A retired Navy rear admiral, Lowcountry resident William Schachte Jr. enjoyed a distinguished career focused on protecting our national security.
He volunteered to serve in Vietnam, and saw combat as a Swift Boat Officer-in-Charge. Following Vietnam, Schachte studied for, and received, his law degree from the University of South Carolina. He then went to work for the JAG Corps, the navy's legal arm. Then followed time in Washington, D.C. including 12 years attached to the Pentagon, an experience that means he knows his way around the Hill.
Now, Schachte has turned his focus on the issue of energy independence.
"Clearly energy independence is a matter of national security," Schachte said in an interview with Palmetto Business Daily. "I deeply believe in energy independence, and using solar and wind, but especially oil and natural gas."
Schachte serves as the volunteer chairman in South Carolina of Vets4Energy, a group that advocates for energy independence in the United States.
One of his main arguments for an America with increased energy independence is to lessen the threat of becoming "entangled" in conflicts with countries that may not share American values. Many of his fellow volunteers in Vets4Energy saw combat recently and are among the most committed within the organization.
Schachte sees progress toward energy independence following the election of President Donald Trump. He specifically cited the president's executive order to advance the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a 1,100-mile crude oil pipeline that would connect oil production in Alberta, Canada to refiners in the U.S.
That executive order also was praised by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"The choice is simple -- build the pipeline, create jobs in the United States, and lessen our dependence on oil from the Middle East," Graham said. "We need oil and Canada has the means to deliver it to us. There's nothing more common-sense than expanding our long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship with Canada. I applaud this decision.”
Schachte agreed, saying that "if we do not do it (build the pipeline), then it will go to China, or some other place in Asia."
Schachte also addressed the ongoing debate over energy development off the shores of South Carolina. He said such development "absolutely" should be permitted, with a "vast" potential of benefits to American energy security. As such, he believes the majority of people in South Carolina are supportive of offshore drilling, or at least exploring to see how many resources lie off our shores.
He cited a 2016 public opinion survey that showed 67 percent of South Carolina voters support offshore energy development. That survey was released by the South Carolina Petroleum Council.
In terms of renewable energy, Schachte acknowledges that such sources can and should play a larger role in the future, but he argues that oil, natural gas and even coal are needed as a "bridge" for at least the next 50 years if America is to maintain its energy independence.
While Schachte said he welcomes a vigorous debate over the future of energy development, he said opposition to increased domestic energy development is largely driven by "well funded and disciplined environmental groups."
"For the past eight years, the politicians, the South Carolina media and a vocal minority of uninformed activists have quibbled over unrealistic energy wishes that have kept us behind,” Schachte said in a statement to Palmetto Business Daily, following the release of the Trump Administration's "America First Energy Plan" this year.
He is specifically critical of some South Carolina media sources, and reporters whom he said are opposed to increased energy development.
"We cannot stand still. This is a competitive world. Some of the positions are predicated on a world that is simply not out there," he told Palmetto Business Daily in a previous interview. "I saw a bumper sticker that said ‘no drilling, no filling, just chilling’ – and I thought yeah, ‘just chilling,' as the rest of the world controls many aspects of our own national security."