Leaders eye offshore energy production - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Leaders eye offshore energy production

By Kyle Grainger - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC  (WMBF) -  Grand Strand leaders met with state leaders and energy representatives Wednesday to learn more about drilling for oil and gas off of the Carolina coast.

State leaders have been studying the idea and are set to release a report in about two weeks on the feasibility of drilling for oil or exploring any other energy resources off the coast. 

Many of those at the meeting say they haven't completely made up their mind either way on the issue, but don't want South Carolina to be left behind if other states go that route.

Sen. Paul Campbell of Berkeley County is the co-chair for the South Carolina Natural Gas Exploration Feasibility Study Committee.  This group has been looking at the possibility of drilling since 2007.

"If this country wants to become energy independent, then we need to be doing what we can in the United States and here in South Carolina to find energy if it exists," said Campbell. "We want to protect the environment. We want to protect tourism. At the same time, if there are resources off shore, we feel like we have to go after those resources."

The group has found that natural gas and oil could be as close as 50 miles off shore, which would be far enough out to not be seen from the coastline. It's an idea that was pleasing to Grand Strand tourism leaders.

"I can't tell you how many of my guests love getting on the balcony at night and watching the view over the beach and I think that's one of the advantages we have," said Steve Chapman, president of the chamber's marketing council and manager at the Island Vista Resort on Ocean Boulevard.

The positives could be the impact on the economy of the state, in terms of job creation.  Campbell said that and lines would come onshore, probably in areas that are suffering from unemployment.  Overall, he says that he hopes South Carolina will lead the way and not be left behind by other states.

With 60 percent of South Carolina's energy coming from coal, Campbell says it's time to look at every available option.

"We need to be looking at the whole equation.  From conservation in coal, natural gas, we need to be looking at the nuclear, we need to be looking at wind, we need to be looking at solar we need to be looking at bio mass," he added.

©2009 WMBF News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly