by Arielle Klagsbrun, community organizer, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE)
Yesterday, July 20th, on the three-month anniversary of the oil disaster in the Gulf, two Carolinians hung banners at the Daughters of Confederacy building in Charleston's old city to express concern over Senator Lindsey Graham's continued support of offshore drilling for South Carolina. "Drilling off the coast of South Carolina directly threatens the low country lifestyle central to South Carolina heritage and culture. A single oil spill could destroy our precious coastal environments, not to mention the shrimping, fishing, tourism and real estate industries," said Todd Zimmer, one of the demonstrators.
Tourism is South Carolina's biggest industry, bringing in $18.4 billion last year; should a spill occur like those in the Gulf, in Alaska or in China, this industry would certainly take a major hit. Meanwhile, Senator Graham has taken over $50,000 from dirty energy corporations in the past year alone. The two asked Senator Graham to stand with people not polluters by giving back his dirty energy campaign contributions and supporting a shift in fossil fuel handouts to clean energy investments.
In 2005, Senator Graham recognized the dangers of offshore drilling. He said that he agreed "offshore drilling would be a detriment to our economy along the coast" and that offshore drilling was "the easy way out" and did not address "the fundamental problem with fossil fuels." But in 2008, Senator Graham flipflopped to support offshore drilling, describing the South Carolina coast as a "cash cow."
The two Carolinians, affiliated with Rising Tide North America and the Energy Action Coalition, handed out fliers and urged citizens and tourists to call Senator Graham's office. Many did so on the spot, telling the office "we liked the Senator better when he protected our state's low country by opposing offshore drilling."