A Disaster of Seismic Proportions
By C J Waldron.
One of the issues being pushed by the president is the spread of offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. According to a report in Bloomberg, the goal, as he puts it, is to gain “energy dominance” over the rest of the world. The Charlotte Observer points out that this is a reversal of an order placed by President Obama aimed at protecting the Atlantic seaboard.
To do this,Trump has approved the conducting of seismic surveys to search for undersea deposits of oil. This puts him at odds with the governors of many states along the Eastern Seaboard, including South Carolina Gov. Henry Mc Master, who, less than a year ago, went on the record opposing offshore drilling.
The proposal is to use a seismic air gun to search the ocean floor by sending extremely loud blasts into the ocean floor. These blasts would be repeated in intervals of 10 to 12 seconds. Environmentalists warn that these blasts could cause long-term damage marine mammals, changing the migration patterns of certain marine mammals and causing hearing loss in others.
Another impact on our state would be to the fishing industry. Based upon numbers from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, salt water fishing has contributed $195 million to our economy. The damage caused by disrupting the patterns of sea life would result in irreparable harm to those who make their livelihood from this industry. The loss of revenue would trickle down to restaurants, who specialize in seafood and, ultimately, to everyone in the state in increased taxes to make up for this shortfall in revenue.
Also, there is a great concern as to how the tourist industry, already hurt by damage caused by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, could be further diminished by these seismic blasts. South Carolina’s tourism industry is a driving force in its economic development and a dominant employer in Horry County. The few jobs that would ultimately be generated by drilling off our coast would be far fewer than those lost should an oil spill occur.
The State of Florida, citing possible damage to the Everglades, has obtained an exemption to this plan. Of course, Florida happens to be home to the president’s prized Mar-a-Lago, so it is no wonder this exemption was granted.
South Carolina must have a similar exemption based on the historic nature of its coastline. Mc Master has stated, via Twitter, “We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline”. If he is to be a man of his word, he must forcefully push back against this administration’s plans.
McMaster already has gained Trump’s political support of Donald Trump, as the president came to South Carolina to promote his re-election. Now, he must continue to use this supposed relationship to obtain the rightful exemption for our state. To do otherwise would be a violation of the terms that got him elected.
There is strength in numbers. Several other governors from potentially affected states also have expressed their opposition and Mc Master should reach out to them, form a coalition and head to Washington demanding exemptions similar to Florida’s. If the president realizes the political implications of continuing to support this plan, he may back down.
Local opposition to seismic testing and subsequent drilling is growing. For example, lawyers representing the South Environmental Law Project are seeking an injunction to stop offshore drilling. Along with potential damage to marine life, they point out the possible danger of striking old military equipment that has been dumped onto the ocean floor.
Anyone living in the Carolina Forest area can relate to this as new home buyers there routinely are informed of the possibility of unexploded ordinance on their property, as reported by WPDE, due to the area’s past use for military training. It is this argument that lawyers are using as a basis for opposition to the seismic exploration.
The cost of doing nothing is too great. We must make our voices heard. Tell Gov. McMaster “NO” to offshore drilling in our state. Tell him to use his vaunted influence with his friend, the president.
Otherwise, we could face a disaster of seismic proportions.
Chris Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at HGTC, he lives in Conway with his wife, Donna.