For years, our state has suffered at the hands of environmental zealots who overlook real environmental issues in exchange for the almighty dollar — and now, they’re at it again. Think that’s a strong statement? Just take a look at the $5 million they “requested” in exchange for withdrawing their appeal of Boeing’s Environmental Impact Permit. Their appeal was based on the alleged suffering that the bird population may encounter if the Boeing plant in North Charleston got built. The birds are important, but to this brand of environmentalism, the birds can all die for $5 million dollars, and for that, the environmentalists will, “walk away” from their appeal.
Or take a look at the infamous International Drive court battle in Horry County. The environmental group that appealed the road’s permit suggested that bears may be impacted by the new road. The recommendation? Bear tunnels under the road. How would the bears know to use the tunnels? This, in conjunction with $1.5 million dollars and the environmentalists will “walk away.” These are only two out of dozens of examples of the lunacy and greed displayed by today’s environmental zealots.
South Carolinians by nature are environmentally conscientious people — we’re conservationists and we appreciate (and want to protect) our unique natural resources. Those of us that grew up on the coast, know the real value of the salt marsh. We know the real value of the beach. We appreciate the mountains, the forests and the lakes of South Carolina as much or more than any of these so-called environmentalists. But we also recognize the importance of co-existing and we understand there are costs associated with co-existing.
And now, those false agendas are at work once again. The Southern Atlantic Seacoast is literally one of the last geographically un-surveyed pieces of ocean in the Northern Hemisphere. These surveys give us an understanding of what’s beneath the waves. Based on extrapolation, scientists believe we have massive amounts of natural gas reserves off our coast. A clean abundant energy source that I hope, one day, replaces oil and coal.
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In my humble opinion, as well as the opinion of many of the greatest energy thinkers of today, natural gas is the next big thing. But for some reason, according to the environmentalists, not only shouldn’t South Carolina be able to benefit from our own resources, we shouldn’t benefit from exploring, mapping and seismic! Seismic is too dangerous they say. They may find oil, and that would be terrible, they say. We have enough natural gas, they say.
Well it’s time the majority says something in response to these economic obstructionists. There have been literally millions of miles surveyed in the Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific and Bearing. The industry has been using Seismic surveying since 1925. The Gulf of Mexico has thousands of miles of surveys done every year, and, today, the gulf’s eco-tourism industry is stronger than ever.
So, once again, it’s time for the majority to speak up. It’s time for us to claim economic diversity for Coastal South Carolina. It’s time for high-paying jobs. It’s time for better roads, schools and public safety. Natural gas exploration can get us there. But not with the obstructionists standing in the way. At least not until they make us another offer to “walk away.”
— The writer is a South Carolina State Senator representing portions of Horry, Georgetown and Charleston counties.