This week, the Obama administration killed the potential of 46,000 good-paying jobs in South Carolina.
In 2014, Palmetto Promise Institute released SC’s Offshore Opportunity, a detailed report chronicling the benefits of energy exploration on the outer continental shelf off of South Carolina’s coast. Since 2014, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has been forming a five year strategic plan to determine what new areas might be opened up for leasing consideration.
On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, announced that the mid-Atlantic region, which includes South Carolina, would be left out of the next five-year plan. Citing public concerns from environmentalists, the fishing and shipping industries, and the commercial and military sectors, Secretary Jewell has decided, “it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with the Atlantic lease sale in the near future.”
South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan responded to the announcement, saying, “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that this Administration would once again choose placating his political allies over helping the economic needs of the American people. We know that offshore energy development can be done safely and that it creates tens of thousands of jobs.” Likewise, Governor Haley released a statement which says in part, “It’s just another disappointment from the federal government. It’s not something we were excited to see, but not something that surprises me…”
Those of us at the Palmetto Promise Institute are disappointed as well. Offshore energy exploration has the potential to unleash great opportunity in South Carolina. A robust energy industry could produce upwards of $2.7 billion in new investment in the state economy and add nearly 46,000 new jobs. Atlantic Offshore Drilling would continue to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, providing an off-ramp to the dangerous foreign policy entanglements that our need for foreign energy resources has created.
A vocal minority of activists funded by far-left environmental groups used alarmist and scientifically inaccurate information to intimidate communities up and down the Atlantic coast. In reality, experience has shown that in places like Port Fourchon, Louisiana, offshore development has complemented – not conflicted – with thriving tourism and fishing industries. Likewise, military and oil and national gas activities have functioned side-by-side for years in the Gulf of Mexico. And recent polls showed that a broad majority of South Carolinians support responsible development of South Carolina’s resources.
Despite this disappointing announcement, we continue to be steadfast in our conviction that exploring South Carolina’s energy resources is a safe and prosperous option. The economic benefits far outweigh the potential risks.
There is no doubt that this decision will cost us dearly in terms of wasted time and lost potential. But we will continue to work to create opportunity for the people of South Carolina who would have benefitted most from this offshore opportunity.