Commentary: Explore Offshore coalition is broad and dynamic

November 23, 2018

As chairman of Explore Offshore South Carolina — a multi-state, bipartisan coalition effort launched this summer — I am proud of the work we are doing to engage and educate citizens across our state about the important issue of American energy independence.

That is why, after a recent interview with a Post and Courier reporter about the economic and job opportunities this industry could deliver for our state, I was very surprised and disheartened to see the article the paper ended up printing.

The headline — “African-Americans being targeted by lobbyists to support offshore drilling” — and story that followed framed Explore Offshore as “a campaign targeting minority community leaders, including African-Americans, to promote offshore exploration.”

It’s unclear what driving force led The Post and Courier to take this direction with its reporting in this case. I work very hard to help improve under-served communities throughout our state, both at my full-time job as chairman of the S.C. African American Chamber of Commerce and by volunteering to head up Explore Offshore S.C. Perhaps that leads some to see me as being a black business leader instead of simply a business leader.

The newspaper failed to acknowledge that our coalition is in actuality a broad and diverse group of South Carolinians who support access to American energy — as evidenced by the broad, diverse and dynamic coalition members throughout South Carolina who support domestic American energy development.

Framing our coalition effort as “exploitative” with claims that it “has sparked some outrage” appears to be an attempt to create a racially motivated controversy where none actually existed. It then goes on to quote the heads of leading opposition groups to offshore drilling — who happen to be white — and a minority policymaker who noted that she “has not been contacted by Gilchrist or the Explore Offshore effort.”

Here are the facts the public should know: Explore Offshore is an initiative backed by local businesses, associations, elected officials and community leaders united by their support of accessing sources of domestic energy to create a more self-sufficient American energy portfolio...

Read entire article at The Post and Courier. 

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