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Offshore Drilling May be Coming to South Carolina

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Despite bipartisan dissent, the Trump administration approved offshore drilling for several southern states, including South Carolina. The risks posed by offshore drilling not only promise environmental destruction, but also jeopardize the entire coastal economy. Using this argument, Florida was exempt from this decision, prompting the uproar of other states who’s economies rely heavily on natural resources and reputation. In South Carolina, the coastal tourism economy is a 20 billion dollar industry apart of a 33.4 billion dollar natural resource related economy. If there were to be an oil spill, jobs, revenue, and ecological resources would suffer severe losses. While the Palmetto Policy Forum estimated the rig’s ecological damage of 6.4 billion dollars to be compensated for by a 15 billion economic value, the broader implications for South Carolinians are not taken into account.

Given the apparent threat offshore drilling poses to South Carolina, Gov. MacMaster has called on the Trump Administration to meet with him to discuss exemption. Similar to the case used by Florida, MacMaster argues that the coastal tourism and other reliant industries are not worth the danger of drilling. Representative Mark Sanford-R and supports exemption, pointing out that the exclusive exemption of swing-state Florida indicates a bias in the administration. Siding with the administration, Sen. Steven Goldfinch-R supports drilling in hopes that it would spark economic growth in Georgetown. Despite the potential revenue, strong opposition in South Carolina may result in the state’s exemption.

Protest from states, conservancies, and citizens contributes further to the unpopularity of the decision, and begs to question the interest of the administration. Heavy criticism of the decision itself and the manner it was executed supports offshore drilling to be a state matter.

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