Politics & Government

SC congressman says it's God's 'intelligent design' to drill for oil

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan answers a question during a Rotary Club in Anderson meeting at the Bleckley Inn in Anderson on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan answers a question during a Rotary Club in Anderson meeting at the Bleckley Inn in Anderson on Tuesday. Anderson Independent Mail

An Upstate congressman says it's part of God's "intelligent design" that the Palmetto State can tap offshore oil reserves.

"I’m a Christian, I believe in intelligent design, and I also understand that when we’re talking about oil or fossil fuels, in general, God gave us the ability to discover there are resources known as fossil fuels inside the Earth that we can extract," U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, told a Lander University audience Wednesday, according to the Greenwood Index-Journal.

Duncan told the Greenwood crowd that expanding oil drilling is the key to ensuring U.S. energy independence in the future, adding boosting fossil fuels will benefit South Carolina, in particular.

Because the planned V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project, which would have produced energy for South Carolinians, was abandoned last summer, Duncan expects to see that anticipated energy replaced with natural gas.

“As South Carolinians, we were planning to meet our future electrical needs to run the engines of our economy based on nuclear power generation," Duncan said. "That’s no longer in the mix so going forward ... We’re going to have to replace that with something, and I believe what the state will do is look to natural gas-fired generators.”

Plans by President Donald Trump to open the Atlantic coast to oil drilling have drawn opposition from S.C. politicians from statewide-elected officials — Trump ally and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster — to coastal Republicans — U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford.

SC Gov. Henry McMaster said he is against drilling and seismic testing off the state’s shores and plans to take appropriate steps.

Former Governor Mark Sanford at an opponents to coastal drilling rally before a hearing later Tuesday on the Trump administration's proposal to open the SC coast to oil and gas drilling.

But Duncan said South Carolina can learn from the example of Western states with strong oil and natural gas industries.

“They weathered it (the Great Recession) because they were producing energy during that time and continued to export the energy," Duncan said.

Duncan also denied being a “climate denier,” saying he believes global temperatures have changed over time, but that human beings are not directly responsible for the changes.