Charleston Post and Courier
January 18, 2018
By Seanna Adcox
COLUMBIA — South Carolina can’t afford the potential risks of offshore drilling for oil and gas, Gov. Henry McMaster wrote in a letter to the Trump administration that seeks an exemption like one already given to Florida.
“Simply put: our coastline is not an industrial working coastline as in some other states. It is just the opposite,” McMaster wrote Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in the letter dated Tuesday.
“Our 187-mile coastline and 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline drive a $20 billion tourism industry — one of our largest industries. … Such reliance means that we cannot afford to accept the risk of adverse environmental impacts attendant to offshore drilling.”
The letter follows up on McMaster’s request in a phone conversation Thursday. McMaster’s office says the Republican governor has been given no timeline on a decision.
Florida received its exemption quickly last week following plans announced by the Department of the Interior to open thousands of miles of Atlantic and Pacific coastal zones to offshore exploration. Other governors along the East Coast are seeking an exemption, too.
McMaster’s letter lays out several concerns for the Palmetto State, including the potential impact of seismic testing on the state’s commercial fishing industry. Also, the construction of “massive refineries, gas storage tanks” and other large facilities needed to support offshore operations isn’t compatible with either coastal resort communities or protected sea islands, he said.
He also lists the state’s many state and national parks.
“Perhaps most alarming is the fact that South Carolina sits in the middle of ‘Hurricane Alley,’ and we are regularly in the path of hurricanes, tropical storms” and other weather events, McMaster wrote.
He concludes by asking Zinke and his “good friend President Donald J. Trump” to take his concerns into consideration.
McMaster was the nation’s first statewide official to back Trump in his bid for president, and Trump has returned the favor by endorsing McMaster in his run this year for his first full term as governor.
One advocate of offshore drilling and exploration, state Sen. Steven Goldfinch, R-Georgetown, has filed a resolution calling for a statewide non-binding voter referendum