McMaster cool to offshore drilling

Gov. Henry McMaster, who has opposed drilling for oil off the S.C. coast, said Thursday that protecting natural resources is an important factor in considering whether to open the coast to energy exploration.

Republican President Donald Trump is looking to revisit plans for offshore energy exploration in what would be a reversal of recent U.S. energy policy. Democratic President Barack Obama scrapped a plan that could have opened the South Atlantic coast to drilling.

McMaster is a major supporter of fellow Republican Trump, but when asked by a reporter about drilling Wednesday, the governor offered little enthusiasm for the idea.

“I have questions,” McMaster said. “We need to be energy sufficient. We need to be secure.

“We also need to take care of our precious natural resources.’’

As lieutenant governor, McMaster told The State newspaper late in 2015 that he did not support offshore drilling. He has made similar remarks since then, telling an Upstate economic development group he had “serious deep concerns’’ about drilling.

The White House has been considering an executive order instructing the Interior Department to reverse Obama’s ban, according to The Washington Post.

Boosters of offshore drilling say it could help U.S. energy production. Critics say it could endanger marine life and pollute tourist-rich beaches if a spill occurred.

For those who gain their living from the sea, the prospect of oil rigs off of Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island and Georgetown is scary. Video produced in March 2016. Oil drilling remains an issue today in South Carolina.