State lawmakers: Offshore drilling could bring thousands of jobs to SC

VIDEO: State lawmakers: Offshore drilling could bring thousands of jobs to SC

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - It could bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to South Carolina, but those against offshore drilling say that would come at the risk of harming marine life. Congressman Jeff Duncan says thousands of jobs could be created because of the work that goes into drilling on and off the shore. On Wednesday, Duncan along with other pro-drilling activists spoke out about why it's important to get the ball rolling on this process.

"It's all about jobs," said Duncan.

"Right now there's an energy renaissance all over the country and it's time for South Carolina to join in," said Alegenon Cash with America's Energy Forum.

On Wednesday, lawmakers and supporters of offshore drilling joined the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for a public forum. People went from station to station, looking at information, asking questions and even giving their own input about the process.

"Their concerns, identifying their issues that they want to make sure that we analyze," said Renee Orr with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

"It's also important to know that drilling isn't going to happen tomorrow. You are not going to see drilling rigs being towed into the South Atlantic," said Duncan.

Some folks never want to see offshore drilling in South Carolina, and those against it brought their message to the forum, too.

"When you have offshore drilling you have spills," said Elaine Cooper, a protester at the forum.

And those oil spills could kill many forms of sea life.

"It's not worth the risk to our tourism industry, to our fisheries, and to our wildlife on the coast. Tourism brings in $4 billion a year and 80,000 jobs and offshore drilling for oil and gas would imperil those jobs," said Alan Hancock, a protester at the forum.

Some lawmakers disagree.

"If you go to the Gulf of Mexico, you know where they are fishing? They go out to the rigs. That's going to happen in South Carolina. You are going to have an economic benefit there," said Duncan.

"Clearly safety and making sure that there are no incidents is absolutely number one," said Orr.

Before drilling would take place, crews would perform seismic testing that would be used to find reserves under water. No word yet on if or when this process will begin. Towns like Sullivan's Island and Folly Beach have already opposed drilling offshore, but the ultimate decision will be made by the federal government.

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