Hilton Head Island Packet
January 5, 2018
By Tom Davis
The Trump administration recently announced a new drilling plan that includes opening up areas off South Carolina’s coast to seismic testing for oil. This is terrible public policy.
First, seismic testing involves firing loud sonic guns into the ocean floor every 16 seconds to read echoes from the bottom geology, with the tests taking place over miles of ocean for months at a time. I am in no way reassured by oil-industry claims that such will not adversely affect marine species.
Second, such tests would be proprietary to the companies who conduct them. The public and elected officials in our state who have an obligation to protect its interests wouldn’t even have access to the results, nor would members of the public.
Third, the tests are pointless unless one contemplates the actual possibility of drilling for oil, and under no circumstances is that in our best interests. There is, of course, a risk of damage to the environment in the event of a spill. But even if a spill never occurs, there’s still an adverse impact to our coast in that the land-based infrastructure necessary to support offshore drilling is dirty and highly industrial.
Fourth, offshore drilling makes no economic sense. Oil shale, oil sands and hydraulic fracking have precipitated a revolution and contributed to the unprecedented supply of oil. There’s no need for offshore oil production off South Carolina’s coast, especially in light of the costs noted above.
This is something that must be strongly and consistently opposed by our elected officials at all levels, and by the people.
State Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort represents Beaufort and Jasper counties.