In their July 11 letter, (“A prosperous future for South Carolina lies offshore”) retired rear admiral William Schachte, Jr. and William Crowther, president of the Atlantic Energy Alliance, shills for the oil and gas industry, claim that exploring for and extracting oil and gas thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean would be a great thing for South Carolina and that it will not harm the environment.
From the tanker Exxon Valdez that vomited up to 750,000 of barrels of oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989 to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that spewed over 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, we have learned how “safe” ocean drilling is.
In the Gulf, many thousands of fish, birds and other wildlife were soaked in oil; most of them died. We’ve all seen pictures of volunteers cleaning off shore birds soaked with oil. We take such care of our sea turtles here at the beach, why would we place them is such danger?
Damage to the environment from oil spills last a long time. It begins with the microorganisms that are the building blocks of the food chain. Recent studies have shown that the floor of the Gulf for miles around the wreck of the drilling platform has changed from a thriving marine area to a virtual desert where nothing lives.
That the drilling rigs will be located 50 miles off our coast is supposed to give us comfort. The Deepwater Horizon was 50 miles offshore and still the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Texas were slathered with oil.
A spill here, even smaller than in the Gulf, would destroy tourism in our area. Why would we risk all this on such unreliable promises?
The search for coastal oil requires seismic air guns blasting high intensity sound pulses, often reaching 260 decibels every 10 seconds. Marine animals depend on their hearing for food and survival. To say this is safe for fish, whales, porpoises and other marine animals is ludicrous. Have someone blow a whistle in your ear all day and see if it affects your hearing.
The search for off-coast oil also involves “fracking.” Ask California about that — the oil industry dumps 9 billion gallons of waste-water and fracking chemicals into the ocean from its rigs each year.
We hear the claim that 35,000 jobs will be created if we will allow coastal drilling off our beaches. Perhaps jobs for those who build the giant rigs, but we don’t build them here in South Carolina. The jobs on the offshore rigs will likely be filled by workers who have experience in this line of work — roustabouts from oil states like Texas and Louisiana.
Nothing good can come of allowing drilling and oil rigs off the coast, except that the oil companies will make lots of money. The propaganda push is on: the double-speak to persuade South Carolinians that what is bad for us is actually good. Already we see TV ads telling us how great and safe fracking is and now the letters to the editor are starting.
It will become more intense, but don’t be fooled. Save our coast.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.