Debating off-shore drilling

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Greg Argos - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - After President Obama relaxed off-shore oil drilling regulations, oil rigs are now allowed to drill off South Carolina coasts, and many people are forming strong opinions on what that means for tourism.

Part of the reason Nikki Smith and her family visit Myrtle Beach from Michigan is because of the view.

"Every morning when we wake up we look our the window and see dolphins, which is pretty exciting for myself and my children," Smith said.

However, after President Barack Obama lifted off-shore drilling restrictions, that view could include oil drilling rigs off the South Carolina coast.

Smith say if that happens, her family would look for a different destination to spend their family vacation.

"It would encourage us not to come back here again," she said.

The Sproat and Mykala families, getting a bite to eat and enjoying their view at the nearby Pier 14 Restaurant, seemed to share the sentiment.

"I think we'd go somewhere else," Jim Sproat commented.

John Mykala added, "We 'd probably stay at a resort that didn't have a view of an oil rig."

However, Pier 14's owner Bryan Devereux thinks an off-shore drilling rig could mean a boost in business.

"I think it's a novelty that people would like to see," he explained. "Visitors here, they come to look at the beach. They sunbathe. If there was an oil rig out there, I'm sure they'd be happy to look at that."

Besides, Devereux says we need to lower our dependence on foreign oil.

"We need the oil. My god, you know, it's crazy," he said. "These tree huggers slow everything down. We'd go back to the Middle Ages if we did everything they want us to do."

Though environmental concerns are playing a factor in opinions on offshore drilling, Smith says her opinion is mainly formed on how such a project would affect her family vacation.

"The reason we come here is to see and smell the ocean and to enjoy the sounds," she said. "And if I were to sit here and look at a big oil rig, I wouldn't be coming back."

Plans are currently in the works for off-shore oil drilling in Virginia. There are no plans for rigs in South Carolina at the time.

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