- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Lawmakers generally applauded while conservation groups worried Tuesday when the Obama administration included tracts off the coast of the Carolinas in a draft proposal of areas that could be opened to oil and gas exploration later this decade.

Politicians generally said such exploration would boost state economies and help the nation toward energy independence. Conservationists worried that oil spills could damage the thriving coastal tourism of the Carolinas and said the focus should be on developing offshore wind energy.

A sampling of reaction to Tuesday’s announcement:

“Exploring for energy off the coast is a critical economic development issue and will mean jobs and investment for our state, and, while we will always make safeguarding our rich natural resources a priority, it’s encouraging to see the federal government finally acknowledge what we’ve been fighting for with our federal delegation for years.” - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.


“For me this is a very disappointing development. It jeopardizes what makes our region of the country special. We want beach balls on our beaches, not tar balls.” - Chris DeScherer, of the Southern Environmental Law Center.


“This is a potential game changer for South Carolina, and another important step toward making offshore production a reality.” - U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.


“As the administration moves to finalize this proposal we hope they will recognize that North Carolina and South Carolina’s energy future should be focused on tapping our region’s large offshore wind potential instead of drilling for fossil fuels.” - Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club.


“It’s long past time for America to start realizing its full energy potential and economic benefits from the vast untapped energy reserves off our shores.” - U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in an op-ed appearing in The Greenville Daily Reflector hours before the announcement.


“I’m not surprised by the announcement. But it’s time for folks to start paying attention. I think we’ll see the people of South Carolina and the other states speak up and we’ll see the federal government respond accordingly.” - Hamilton Davis of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

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