Second District Congressman Joe Wilson joined with fellow Republican congressmen Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie in introducing the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act on May fourth. Wilson says the legislation does not call for raising taxes on the American people. A major component of the measure calls for offshore drilling and Wilson says such searches for oil and natural gas does not have to affect tourism off the South Carolina coast.”I have been in touch with geologists who have advised me that there is significant potential for natural gas and oil off the coast of South Carolina. But of course, I only favor it if it’s beyond 20 miles because I do not want it to be observable from the coast. The hospitality industry is very important to me, it creates a lot of jobs, it creates a lot of tax revenue.”
In September 2008, U.S. House Democrats and Republicans agreed to let the near 30 year old moratorium on offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire September 30th.
Wilson says the bill he supports would provide for 30 percent royalties to coastal states where offshore drilling is performed and that would include the state of South Carolina. “This is the same thing that is done for the Gulf Coast states and the money is used for infrastructure, for roads and bridges, which are of assistance to the oil and natural gas industry and also can be used for beach re-nourishment and so it would actually be positive for the hospitality industry.”
Wilson says the measure also would extend tax credits to help promote more efficient energy use and incentives for businesses and individuals to develop cleaner energy products.
According to oil companies and some government scientists there are an estimated 18 billion gallons of oil below the Outer Continental Shelf which could be extracted by offshore drilling, however it would take decades to deliver that oil. Despite that, Wilson says South Carolina would receive a number of immediate benefits once the decision to drill offshore is made.
“You would have jobs created right away to begin the drilling, begin the exploration, to begin building the infrastructure, the roads and bridges, so that we could have a full system in place that can be used as back up (evacuation routes). A concern that I have, I represent all of Beaufort County and I’m very concerned about safety and security in the event of a hurricane and evacuation.”
Wilson says the infrastructure improvements along the coastal areas would provide for safer and more orderly evacuation of the areas should a hurricane or other natural disaster threaten the South Carolina coast.