South Carolinians are sharing strong and sharply different opinions with the federal government about the prospect of oil derricks going up off the state’s coast.
Dozens of residents have commented as the federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management begins the process of deciding where to issue new oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf should between 2017 and 2022. Friday was the last day for comment.
The comments come from everyone from elected officials and businesspeople to environmental groups and just plain folks.
Those in favor say coastal energy will bring jobs and tax revenues. Opponents worry about the environments, including spills that could damage the state’s beaches, which are the heart of South Carolina’s $18 billion tourism industry.
Connie Gillette, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said the nation’s entire continental shelf is first considered for possible leases and public comment is solicited.
The number of areas will be narrowed in what is called a draft proposed program to be released by early next year. The list will be winnowed twice again before the secretary of the interior approves a final map of lease areas. The process takes up to three years.
A sampling of comments from South Carolina on the agency’s website: