One military expert recently said offshore drilling could do more than just boost revenue and jobs in South Carolina. It could enhance national security.
“This is a definite step in the direction of energy independence, and that’s something our forefathers I guarantee you would have supported,” retired Navy Rear Adm. William L. Schachte, Jr. told the Palmetto Business Daily.
Schachte, who served in Vietnam, said expanding energy production could save the lives of American soldiers by keeping the United States from having to be involved in oil trade with other countries. America can minimize its dependence on other nations for oil, he said, by drilling its own.
“Particularly now in the quagmire of the Middle East, we’re kowtowing to people who really just hate us and would like to destroy us, but we continue throwing money their way," Schachte said.
Developing offshore oil production would put the United States “in the driver’s seat” when it comes to the price of oil and energy, Schachte said.
“We can run that market," he said.
Still, residents of every coastal community in South Carolina have united in their opposition of offshore drilling, according to the Oceana organization.
Development of resources in the Atlantic could bring as much as $2.7 billion to the state’s economy along with the creation of 35,000 new jobs, according to the South Carolina Energy Forum.
“The amount of economic activity that will be shuttled through Georgetown (South Carolina) would be huge," State Rep. Stephen Goldfinch (R-Georgetown) told the Palmetto Business Daily. "Think of the supply ships, personnel ships, helicopter transport, food, fuel, ice, hotels, mechanics, welders, commercial divers, etc. that would be needed. But I have to emphasize that none of this matters if it can't be done safely.”
Goldfinch said it’s important to note that the state is not willing to give up its natural beauty, saying he supports offshore drilling if it’s done safely – and 30 miles off the coast. The Shell Oil Corp. says offshore drilling in South Carolina would happen at least 50 miles off shore.
Goldfinch said he hopes citizens see offshore drilling with their own eyes before picking which side of the fence they belong on.
“Go to Venice, Louisiana and charter a tuna fishing trip up to the oil rigs," he said. "Or charter an inshore fishing trip in the marsh. See first hand how eco-tourism is doing. It’s some of the best fishing in the gulf. The gulf is doing very well right now. I’ve seen it first hand, but everyone on the fence should truly go and see it for themselves.”
Offshore drilling often conjures up images such as the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil that continues to wash ashore in Louisiana.
A community organization called Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA) has a very active presence on Facebook and shares anti-drilling information daily.
“Every day, the voices of constituents who are for their coast grow louder and louder,” SODA organizers posted on the page. “But we’ll need to keep the pressure in order to drown out the industry and #stopthedrill.”
An infographic from Oceana says 500 local and state officials are against drilling the Atlantic Coast, as well as 90 members of Congress, 75 top marine scientists and 75 East Coast municipalities.
Schachte maintains offshore drilling is what America must do to gain energy independence.
“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,” he said.