Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005
and drilling in the bud
SC Statehouse Report
23, 2005 - - Now is the time for South Carolinians to nip
in the bud any idea to build an oil refinery in the state
or drill for fuel off its coast.
Not only would a refinery or offshore drilling threaten the
state's $15 billion tourism industry, but it could wreck South
Carolina's environment. Imagine the effect on both if an Exxon
Valdez-type spill seeped crude oil into the marshes and estuaries
of our coast. Imagine how it would cripple the already struggling
Despite a federal ban on offshore drilling until 2012, energy
lobbyists already are pushing for opportunities at the state
level. S.C. Rep. Michael Thompson, R-Anderson, recently said
he would pre-file legislation that would seek to explore the
possibility of building a petrochemical refinery in South
Carolina, perhaps in the Jasper County area. State Rep. Harry
Cato, R-Greenville, in May got the state House to pass a resolution
asking the Congress to let states decide on whether to drill
for oil or natural gas.
Is this what we want South Carolina to look more like?
Fortunately other leaders, such as Gov. Mark Sanford and
House Speaker Bobby Harrell, have said the state needed to
look long-term at finding or developing alternative sources
of energy, such as nuclear power and hydrogen fuel cells.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had a similar sentiment
in September when he told the Greenville News, "If we're
still using it [oil] as the basis of our economy 30 years
from now, shame on us."
Yes, some of South Carolina's leaders are only talking about
oil and gas possibilities here. But talk can lead to action.
If they were to explore for oil or gas and find it, what would
be the end game? Increased pressure to tap into the resource.
Similarly, they may just "talk" about building a
refinery, but eventually somebody would have a room full of
studies, architectural drawings and information that might
lure lawmakers into unwise long-term public policy decisions.
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The cost to South Carolina's quality of life would be too
high. Drilling for fuel or building a refinery here would
be the typical example of our state being penny-wise and pound-foolish
- - looking for a short-term monetary gain that would have
a long-term negative effect on the state. Look at other factors:
Low unemployment. One of the reasons some are calling
for a refinery or drilling is they believe either would create
jobs. But the areas a refinery logically could be located
would be in areas near a port - - Georgetown, Charleston,
Beaufort or Jasper counties, all of which have relatively
low unemployment rates. In other words, they don't need an
industrial polluter in the area just to get jobs.
Health. If anyone has ever driven through the dirty
petrochemical refining area of Louisiana, they'll know impacts
from refineries aren't good on human health. They don't call
this area "Cancer Alley" for no reason.
Marine wildlife. A major leak could wipe out the state's
precious shellfish population, a DHEC official told the Hilton
Head Island Packet this week.
Alternatives. Instead of banking on a dwindling resource,
the state ought to invest in alternatives that are a long-term
solution to energy needs. Rather than continue a culture based
on oil, the state and nation need to take responsibility and
develop home-grown fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel from
grain, or look more deeply into hydrogen or nuclear power.
Just about the only good thing that could come from potential
drilling or the possibility of a refinery being sited in South
Carolina is that either would galvanize the environmental
community in ways the state hasn't seen in more than 20 years.
And that could cost some of the people their jobs in Columbia.
One of the beauties of South Carolina's coast is that it
doesn't have industries stacked on top of each other. While
any drilling or building of a refinery would be far off, let's
hope lawmakers can keep the future in mind, and not mortgage
it with something that could make us just like everybody else.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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10/21: More realistic estimate needed
To the editor:
As a member of the Beaufort County Board of Education, I
have seen firsthand the impacts of technology in the classroom,
most of which are positive and a few of which are at least
marginal or uncertain if not downright negative. But, overall,
I would tend to agree with and support the ideas you expressed
in your article as published in todays Beaufort Gazette
However, I would offer one caution about your estimates of
the cost you offered. They are vastly understated. You would
be closer to the mark if you doubled all of the numbers, but
even that would be misleading. What you fail to identify or
estimate or talk about are the infrastructure costs (plant),
the training costs for school personnel, the charges associated
with connectivity (circuits), the on-going costs of maintaining
fairly large and sophisticated LAN/WAN networks and, last
but not least, you fail to estimate the maintenance costs
that grow almost geometrically as a school district engages
in all of the activities I just listed.
In other words, buying the laptops becomes, in the long run,
the least expensive element of the equation.
Again, I do sympathize with and appreciate your enthusiasm
for the idea itself, and I have no issue with the idea on
a philosophical level. But if you propose to spend untold
millions in tax money, you need to be a little more certain
and a lot more detailed in your calculations. Its just
simple math, after all.
To fail to do so damages an idea that does have merit, and
costs you credibility with your audience.
-- Rick Caporale, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The original commentary
included a general estimate for teacher training in the
12th and 13th paragraphs.
Laptops require 100 percent commitment
To the editor:
Just read your editorial (Commentary,
10/16). Although there is much promise in what you
say, let me tell you what we have learned here in Hilton Head.
Haven't kept up with technology
To the editor:
Wouldn't it be good if the rural schools in SC had computers
and up-to-date textbooks? Our social progress has not kept
up with technology.
-- Donna Crile, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Administration should snap to, Bob Logan, Little
like Red Cross,
Deborah Shealy Nye, Summit, SC
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Spartanburg delegation. It's good news that the county's
legislative delegation recommended against building another
Brown, Thompson. Thumbs down to First District GOP
Congressman Henry Brown, who told the Chicago Tribune that
he thought offshore drilling was fine for the SC coast. He
should stick his head back in the sand. Similar sentiments
to S.C. Rep. Michael Thompson, R-Anderson, for proposing a
new refinery in the state.
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