Other Views

Why we all must be wise stewards of our SC coast

Clean beach is the key to the Lowcountry South Carolina culture and economy.
Clean beach is the key to the Lowcountry South Carolina culture and economy. Staff file

As a man of faith, I feel called to honor the beauty of our coast as a way of showing respect for our Creator. As a former legislator, I feel a responsibility to stand against dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. And as a resident of the Lowcountry, I know that it’s going to take all of our voices working together to protect our communities from short-sighted decisions.

God created a world in balance and our coastline is renowned for its beauty. But it’s not just a tourist destination with resorts and golf courses, it’s our home and our livelihood.

With polar caps melting, oceans rising and weather patterns bringing too much or too little rain, it appears that our God-given Earth that has enabled life to flourish is sending us a message.

With a booming tourism economy that supports 600,000 jobs and $20 billion annually, now is not the time to risk our coast and livelihoods for risky promises of more oil and gas.

I like to think of the resources that lie off our shores as money in the bank for future generations. At a time when our nation is exporting oil, can’t we be better stewards of our God-given natural resources by leaving them alone for now and investing instead in more clean energy?

The federal government is considering whether or not to let Big Oil companies conduct seismic tests in the south Atlantic to look for more oil and gas. This would involve firing sonic guns every 10 seconds, sending loud noises underwater for as far away as 2,500 miles.

The impacts could alter the behavior of sea mammals because whales and dolphins, in particular, are sensitive to seismic noises that adversely affect their courtship, nursing, migration, feeding, and communications.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). It is said that soul originally meant “coming from or belonging to the sea.” Should we risk losing our souls for mere profit and, in the process, potentially harm or kill creatures that dwell in — and humans who rely upon — the sea?

If we allow drilling off our shores, it will not be a matter of “if” a spill or leak occurs, but “when and how much” the rigs, pipes, and tankers soil forever our blessed sands and estuaries.

Everyone remembers the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that left 184 million barrels spilled, 26,000 jobs lost immediately and a $4.5 billion fishing industry harmed.

Given the risk, it’s not surprising that every local government on our coast officially opposes dirty and dangerous offshore drilling — and they are joined by Congressmen Jim Clyburn and Mark Sanford and Gov. Henry McMaster.

When I think of stewardship, I think of Psalm 24’s admonition that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”

Let us be wise stewards of our coast and think of the legacy we want to leave future generations.

Kenneth Hodges is pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort and a former state representative of District 121.