Rice leads S.C. colleagues in opposing oil drilling off home state’s coast

Rice leads S.C. colleagues in opposing oil drilling off home state’s coast

The Ripon Advance
June 15, 2018

By  Ripon Advance News Service

There will be no oil drilled off the South Carolina coast if U.S. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) has anything to say about it.

The negative consequences on the state’s tourism economy that could result from a potential oil spill, coupled with the increased utilization of alternative energy sources over oil, should be proof enough that offshore drilling near South Carolina is unnecessary, wrote Rep. Rice in a bipartisan June 12 letter sent to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“I have met with Secretary Zinke multiple times to voice my opposition to drilling off of South Carolina’s coast,” Rep. Rice said. “Our vibrant coast is the lifeblood of local communities and drives South Carolina’s tourism industry, which generates $20 billion annually for our state.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, and U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford (R-SC), and Jim Clyburn (D-SC) also signed the letter specifically noting their opposition to South Carolina’s inclusion in the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024, which would allow the drilling off of the Palmetto State’s coast.

“An oil spill or any other associated disaster off the coast of South Carolina would devastate the state’s vibrant coastal economy and have a lasting impact on the entire state,” the lawmakers wrote. “Long-term environmental consequences and health impacts, as result of a spill, would hamper the opportunities for generations to come.”

At the same time, the members wrote, “innovative fossil fuel production methods have caused oil and natural gas prices to drop substantially and there is new increased access to abundant domestic resources,” basically rendering offshore drilling near the state “as being an unnecessary risk.”

Additionally, the lawmakers think it’s their duty to support the wishes of their constituents, who resoundingly are against such offshore drilling, according to their letter.

“Every single coastal municipality in South Carolina, including the Grand Strand, has voted in opposition to offshore drilling,” said Rep. Rice, referring to a large stretch of beaches and a tourist attraction in the state. “I have heard from many residents, businesses and community leaders who worry about the risks offshore drilling poses to their livelihood.”

Rep. Rice said he plans to continue fighting to protect and grow the state’s coastal economy. “Our environment is our most precious asset – we must safeguard our natural resources and the communities supported by our coastline,” he said.

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