Offshore drilling no panacea

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.: South Carolinans ought to be skeptical of any proposal that touts drilling for oil and gas off the state’s coast as an economic bonanza.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is one of the leaders of the effort to give companies a green light to survey the South Atlantic coast for oil and gas deposits — and to drill for them. Scott plans to introduce a bill that would require a seismic survey of the Atlantic coasts’ deposits to encourage as much competition as possible for leases along the coast.

The House also passed a bill in June — the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act — to lift the drilling moratorium in coastal waters. U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., was one of only five Republicans to vote against it, with the other four coming from New Jersey.

Sanford contends that the House bill would allow rigs to be built about three miles offshore, in plain sight of beaches. He also objects to the fact that the bill “gives the federal government sole authority and final say on all negotiations with oil and gas parties.”

Regardless of how drilling is regulated, he notion that offshore oil and gas exploration along the South Atlantic coast would be a huge godsend for American consumers is a fantasy.

South Carolina, which, contrary to the House bill, should be able to determine whether or not to allow drilling off its coast, needs to consider the overall impact of offshore oil exploration. And one of the chief questions is whether it is worth the risk.

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