Letters to the Editor

How South Carolina can benefit from offshore oil exploration

Letter to The State editorial board

South Carolinians depend on accessible, affordable energy to fuel our lives.

The decisions we make about our energy resources today lay the foundation for what kind of state we will call home tomorrow.

That is the focus of Explore Offshore SC, a new coalition of community organizations, businesses and local leaders who support access to U.S. offshore resources. I am proud to lead this group and work with other South Carolinians to secure more reliable domestic energy through safe, responsible offshore exploration.

Offshore represents a vast, untapped source of potential energy for meeting our growing energy needs. Unfortunately, 94 percent of America’s offshore acreage is currently off limits to development or even new study.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took a major step toward ending this moratorium by announcing a new National Offshore Leasing Program to explore and develop the Outer Continental Shelf.

GilchristStephenV
Stephen Gilchrist

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The last estimates — nearly three decades old — said the Outer Continental Shelf holds more than 89 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The technology and safety of seismic surveying have improved greatly since then. We should at least be able to agree it’s time we use modern technology to take a fresh look and better determine what resources we are talking about.

The economic benefits would be huge for South Carolina, bringing more than $2 billion in private investment and adding $3.8 billion to our state budget. This would support the creation of 34,000 new jobs covering a variety of industries. For the oil and natural gas industry, new positions would have an average salary of $116,000 and would not always require a college degree.

I’ve attended town hall meetings up and down South Carolina’s coast. where there has been significant support for offshore exploration — especially in historically disenfranchised communities where the economic opportunities would be a game-changer. And with more than 100 regulations and industry standards implemented or strengthened since 2010, South Carolinians can support offshore operations confident in its ability to safely coexist with tourism, the fishing industry and the military.

Stephen Gilchrist

Chairman, S.C. African American Chamber of Commerce

Columbia

The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.

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