Friday, April 28, 2017

Coastal mayors take a stand against Trump plan to open Atlantic to offshore drilling

Tecklenburg: ‘Oil and water don’t mix in South Carolina’

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg joins other Lowcountry mayors April 28, 2017, to oppose President Donald Trump's executive order that would make offshore energy exploration possible off the Atlantic coast - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg joins other Lowcountry mayors April 28, 2017, to oppose President Donald Trump's executive order that would make offshore energy exploration possible off the Atlantic coast
If current market prices hold, an estimated $4.59 billion worth of oil could potentially be mined off the South Atlantic coast. Of course, the cost of doing business could be much greater for communities along the shore — especially in Charleston where the threat of spills would devastate what has become a $3.7 billion-a-year tourism industry.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that could possibly open up portions of the Atlantic coast to drilling for oil and natural gas for the first time in more than 30 years. In a move that would roll back bans put in place by the Obama administration to protect the Atlantic Ocean from energy exploration until at least 2022, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at the White House Thursday that the decision would “cement our nation’s position as a global energy leader.”

Speaking before members of Congress Friday during the signing of the new executive order, Trump said his “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” would open up the 94 percent of offshore areas that the federal government has closed to energy exploration and production. While the Trump administration see the restrictions previously in place as a hindrance to the nation’s energy independence, officials on the coast could only imagine the troubling possibilities of what the reversal could mean to South Carolina.

“The disruption to tourism in this state would be substantial. One out of 10 workers in the state of South Carolina now play some role in the tourism industry, so the risks are just too great to our aquatic life, to our ecology, and to our economy. Oil and water don’t mix in South Carolina,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, who joined the mayors of Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and Edisto Beach on Friday to speak out against the possibility of coastal energy exploration and drilling.

Tecklenburg called on citizens opposed to offshore drilling to "voice their outrage" to their elected representatives. For leaders throughout the Lowcountry and all along the East Coast who desperately fought the previous attempt to open coastal waters to drilling, the shift in policy means returning to a battle they thought was already won.

“About a year ago, we were celebrating a victory — having found that even though you can’t fight city hall, if you have enough city halls you can take on the White House. It feels like Groundhog’s Day. We’re going to have to do it all over again, but we certainly hope we can have the same result this time,” said Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg was joined by Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin, Edisto Beach Mayor Jane Darby, and Sullivan's Island Mayor Pat O'Neil - DUSTIN WATERS
  • Dustin Waters
  • Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg was joined by Isle of Palms Mayor Dick Cronin, Edisto Beach Mayor Jane Darby, and Sullivan's Island Mayor Pat O'Neil
To date, no commercial oil and gas production has ever taken place off the Atlantic coast. Between 1976 and 1983, following a brief period of seismic testing, 51 exploratory wells were set up off the Atlantic coast, but only a tract off the coast of New Jersey showed any viable resources. As far as South Carolina was concerned, the closest exploratory drilling occurred south, off the coast of Georgia.

Offshore leases for energy exploration are managed by the United States’ Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which released an updated estimate of undiscovered offshore resources in November of 2016. With no recent exploration efforts, current resource estimates are based off of data gathered in the late ’70s coupled with information gathered from recent oil and gas discoveries in analogous portions of the African coast. The reason for this being that, as you may recall, the continents all used to be connected.

So, what would South Carolina be looking at in terms of oil and gas resources off the coast?

According to BOEM, the South Atlantic region — which consists of around 54 million acres off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and parts of Florida — is expected to hold 414,000 million barrels of oil and less than 1.78 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In relation to the entire U.S. Atlantic region, the southern portion is estimated to hold 9 percent of the projected oil supply and less than 5 percent of potential gas resources. But these totals don’t factor in the financial viability of actually recovering oil and gas. Fortunately, BOEM factors this into their estimates, as well.

At the current price of oil, which sits just under $50 per barrel, an estimated 93 million barrels would be worth the cost of drilling. This adds up to about $4.59 billion dollars in oil throughout the entire South Atlantic region in total. If oil prices were to climb to $100 per barrel, the amount of viable resources increases to 177 million barrels. The price of oil has remained under $100 per barrel since 2014. Economically, the South Atlantic region’s estimated natural gas supply is a much more viable option, but coupled together, there would still only be the equivalent of 130 million barrels of oil worth mining at the current market rate, according to BOEM’s estimates.

Those hoping to open the Atlantic back up to energy exploration argue that the current estimates of what resources may be available are based on outdated data and that more modern techniques would reveal the true size of the energy stockpile. While BOEM handles the leases with exploratory companies that survey for resources, what information is collected is deemed proprietary. This means that even if new testing took place, South Carolinians would have no way of knowing what resources were discovered off the state’s coast.

The problem for many coastal leaders is that the risk of a potential spill poses a major threat to the area’s tourism industry — which in Charleston’s case brought in $3.7 billion in 2015, according to the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis’ most recent study. Immediately following the signing of Trump’s executive order, Congressman Mark Sanford filed a bill that would suspend offshore drilling and all related activities in the waters off the East Coast for the next 10 years.

“The administration’s proposal is disappointing and at odds with the overwhelming chorus of voices at home speaking out against offshore drilling. I have joined local leaders, advocates, organizations, and individuals up and down the South Carolina coast in opposing offshore drilling because it poses a real threat to tourism, quality of life, and our environment,” Sanford said in a public statement. “Drilling the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf hasn’t been allowed in over 30 years, and the administration hasn’t made a good enough case to change this policy. One of every 10 jobs in South Carolina comes from tourism, and this means $13 billion in impact every year to our coastal counties alone. Drilling would put this economic driver at risk. Purely from a numbers standpoint, the decision doesn’t add up.”

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The Agenda: NYC getting cable-stay bridges; State wants a check on Haley's remarks; Drilling plans getting review

S.C. newspapers suing for Senate GOP files in ethics probe

Posted by Sam Spence on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 11:07 AM

Three new cable span bridges are rising in New York, with one opening today from Brooklyn to Queens, similar to the Cooper River Bridge. Source: NYT

An $800 million loan proposed for financially troubled Westinghouse could compromise the company's work on S.C. nuclear reactors, utility companies have argued. Source: Reuters

Members of the state House and Senate must hash out the differences between versions of proposed roads funding and gas tax increase each chamber passed before it heads to Gov. Henry McMaster, a feat that is easier said than done after weeks of acrimony leading up to the bill's passage. Source: P&C

President Donald Trump is asking for a review of Obama-era plans that relegated offshore oil drilling and exploration to areas of the Gulf of Mexico and norther Pacific. Source: The Hill

NYT headline: "State Department Wants to Clear Nikki Haley’s Remarks Before She Speaks"

S.C. newspapers including the three largest dailies in the state are arguing in court for access to records from the S.C. Republican Caucus related to the ongoing state ethics investigation. Source: P&C

The City of North Charleston wants you to know that you must behave if you want to speak before city council. Source: P&C


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Weekend rally calls for an end to violence against trans women of color

Rally scheduled for April 30 in Charleston

Posted by Dustin Waters on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 9:43 AM

COLIN DEMAREST, CAROLINA REPORTER / SC NEWS EXCHANGE
  • Colin Demarest, Carolina Reporter / SC News Exchange
Following the reported murders of at least nine transgender women of color in the United States since the start of the year, a community rally will be held this Sunday in Charleston to address this rise in violence.

Scheduled April 30 at noon at Wragg Mall Park, the event will be hosted by a multi-racial group of activists from across the Lowcountry and sponsored by the Carolina Youth Action Project (formerly Girls Rock Charleston), We Are Family, Southerners on New Ground, Campaign for Southern Equality, Charleston Area Transgender Support, the Alliance for Full Acceptance, and Charleston Pride. The rally will feature speakers, calls to action, and an open mic for members of the public to share poetry, spoken-word, song, and personal testimony.

According to a statement released by organizers, “The purpose of the rally is to engage the public in a conversation about ways to protect trans women of color, build movements that include the leadership of trans women of color, and expand our political platforms so that they reflect the compound and overlapping issues that trans women of color face here in the South.”

The rally will serve as a first step in an ongoing process to ensure that trans women of color enjoy the same safety and opportunity as others in Charleston and those attending the rally will be asked to take part in continued efforts throughout the year to protect and uplift this portion of the population that has been subject to violence and discrimination.

“We must have these conversations in our community. We must break the silence,” said Skyelynn Landry, member leader of Southerners on New Ground. “Let’s come together to begin the necessary work of building sanctuary and safety for trans women of color right here in Charleston.”

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

S.C. lawmakers dedicate April 27 in honor of Duke’s Mayonnaise

Spread it on

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:41 PM

FLICKR USER ANDREW FILER
  • flickr user Andrew Filer
Recognizing the cultural and culinary impact of one of South Carolina’s most revered condiments, the state House of Representatives have declared April 27, 2017, as “Duke’s Day” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the celebrated mayonnaise.

The resolution, which was adopted last week by state leaders, begins with a detailed account of the genesis of Duke’s Mayonnaise, starting with the early days. Born in Columbus, Ga., in 1881 as the youngest of 10 children, Eugenia Thomas would later move to Greenville with her husband, Harry Duke, and their daughter.

By 1917, the United States joined the Allied Forces to fight in World War I. As soldiers flooded into Greenville to train at Camp Sevier, Duke’s Mayonnaise was born.

“Noting the hardworking, hungry soldiers-in-training, Eugenia Duke began selling sandwiches slathered with her homemade mayonnaise, starting in 1917. Popular favorites like chicken salad, pimento cheese, and egg salad cost a dime each, and Eugenia made a profit of two cents per sandwich, about 40 cents in today’s dollars. Years after they’d left the camp, soldiers wrote to Eugenia, begging for her sandwich recipes and jars of her delectable spread,” states the House resolution.

As word of her sandwich enterprise spread, Duke was urged by a top salesman to begin packaging her mayonnaise as a separate product in 1923.

“Eugenia sold her sandwich business to focus her attention solely on the spread. The sandwich operation, Duke Sandwich Company, still operates in Greenville today ... In 1929, Eugenia was struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for her famous mayonnaise. She sold her business, and the C.F. Sauer Company was happy to take over and continue spreading Duke’s across the United States, after which Eugenia served as C.F. Sauer’s mayonnaise spokeswoman,” the resolution continues.

In honoring Duke’s Mayonnaise with its own official day, state lawmakers hope to recognize the creamy tang and cultural contributions of the spread as it reaches the century mark.

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Seven-story development at corner of King and Spring streets gains final approval

‘The elegance is there’

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 11:57 AM

The mixed-use development at the corner of King and Spring streets will include ground-floor retail and more than 70 residential units - LS3P ASSOCIATES
  • LS3P Associates
  • The mixed-use development at the corner of King and Spring streets will include ground-floor retail and more than 70 residential units
Plans for a new seven-story apartment building with ground-floor retail on upper King Street were given final approval by Charleston’s Board of Architectural Review Wednesday evening.

The board previously deferred approval for the development set for construction at the corner of King and Spring streets, citing a lack of elegance and refinement in the designs. With plans including 74 residential units, developers were finally able to win over the support of board members and city staff who evaluated the project.

“It has been a long process, but it’s a much better building than was last presented. The detailing, I think, is appropriate to the importance of this project,” said board member Janette Alexander, whose remaining critique of the design was a lack of interesting color for the tan, red brick, and brown building.

The corner design for the project planned at 595 King St. - LS3P ASSOCIATES
  • LS3P Associates
  • The corner design for the project planned at 595 King St.

Owned by Uncle Sam’s Real Estate and designed by LS3P Associates, this development is one of several planned for this stretch of King Street. Once completed, the 595 King St. apartment building would neighbor portions of Evening Post Industries’ Courier Square redevelopment effort. Plans for the multi-phase redevelopment effort on the 12-acre site surrounding the Post and Courier’s King Street office include apartments, office and commercial space, as well as a parking deck.

Looking at plans for the 595 King St. project shows that developers consider the transformation of the nearby U-Haul property into a public park to be a foregone conclusion. City staff were quick to remind applicants at Wednesday’s BAR meeting that the promise of a future park has not yet been resolved. Regardless of what ends up across the street from the development, the future of the corner of King and Spring streets has been decided.

“The elegance is there,” board member Jerome Clemons told applicants from LS3P. “I think that you’ve come back and you’ve addressed that concern between the retail and the residential on the King and Spring Street area, which I believe gives more elegance to the finish of the building.”

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