Today, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) hosted the 2015 Atlantic Energy Forum in Columbia, South Carolina, featuring Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, among other distinguished panelists.

The event is the second of a four part series that gathers industry stakeholders from various trade associations, companies, environmental groups, and government agencies to discuss the importance of reasonable, responsible, and environmentally friendly offshore energy development off the Atlantic coast.  The forum focused on responsible offshore wind and oil & gas development.

In addition to Director Hopper, panelists included South Carolina State Representative Stephen Goldfinch, Jr.; South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance President & CEO Lewis Gossett,; Coastal Conservation League Energy & Climate Director Hamilton Davis; Palmetto Agribusiness Council Executive Director Cathy Novinger; and Atlantic Energy Alliance President Bill Crowther.

As a part of his remarks, Michael Whatley, Executive Vice President of CEA, said that “The benefits to South Carolina from developing offshore wind, oil and natural gas resources are broad and vital to the Palmetto State. From creating jobs and economic growth to generating much needed electricity and government revenues, the potential for responsible offshore energy development presents an important opportunity to help drive South Carolina’s economy forward.

BOEM Director Abigail Hopper added, “Our statutory mandate is to find the balance between developing our natural resources and protecting the marine environment – it will reflected in our five year [oil and gas leasing] plan and in the Environmental Impact Statement – the goal is to thread the needle as carefully as possible to ensure that our nation gets the energy it needs and that our environment is protected.”

Lewis Gossett captured the mind of the manufacturing industry by discussing the importance of offshore development when he said “If we are going to provide jobs to people that maintain quality of life. If we are going to solve economic issues, we have to bring jobs to where people live. And to do that we have to have energy.”

Cathy Novinger represented the voice of the agriculture industry by saying that “When you look at the basic components of producing food, they require energy, and quite frankly a lot of it. It has got to be affordable, and it has got to be available. If you are growing rice, it can be up to 40% percent of the production cost.”

Of bringing offshore oil & gas development to South Carolina, Bill Crowther said, “This could make a big impact on the quality of life for the people of Georgetown County, it can bring good jobs to the people that need them the most.”

Representative Stephen Goldfinch added that his “position is very simply, that we have to investigate all of the evidence [regarding potential offshore oil and gas resources], which starts with seismic – we cannot know what is off our coast without looking.

The panel made it clear that the future of potential energy development offshore South Carolina will have important implications for the region’s economic well-being and quality of life, and that an updated assessment of the region’s resources will play a critical role in the decision making process.