Rebel Yell – How the Confederate Flag Might Scuttle Oil Exploration off the Southeastern Coast

by Chris Dixon

The Flag of the South Carolina 10th Infantry Division Hovers above a Morning of Clean Surf off Charleston’s Folly Beach.
Photo (and Photoshop) Chris Dixon.

Today, I bring you a story in the you can’t make this s___ up department, courtesy of my buddy and former colleague Bo Peterson of Charleston’s Pulitzer Prize winning Post and Courier newspaper. On the very day that South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill to lower the Confederate Battle Flag flying in front of the South Carolina State House, it seems that a collection of southern Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives caused a national furor when they backed a measure brought by Rep. Ken Calvert of the great Confederate state of California. Calvert’s measure would allow the Confederate flag to be displayed at gravesites in national cemeteries. The bill led to a noisy uproar in the House, as we see below.

For those determined to explore for petroleum off the coasts of Georgia, South and North Carolina, this seemingly unrelated brouhaha threw a wrench into oily gears. See, the flag measure was also attached to a funding bill for the U.S. Department of the Interior that would, among other things, potentially allow for seismic oil exploration off the southern coastline. This testing is strongly supported by South Carolina’s Governor Haley, but vehemently opposed by former South Carolina governor and current U.S. Representative Mark Sanford. As Petersen deftly points out, the whole bill is now in shambles and what happens now is anyone’s guess. But it clearly gives more time for drilling opponents like Sanford, to organize. So in short, a Republican Civil War over a Civil War icon might, temporarily, at least, halt seismic testing off the Cradle of the Confederacy (Charleston, that is).

Charleston’s favorite son and blockade runner Rhett Butler would have surely raised an eyebrow.
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Read Bo’s story here: Flagging down an oil and natural gas drilling debate

Read Carolyn Sotka’s comprehensive Feature: Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in the Southeast Atlantic : What You Can Do – State by State.

And read today’s NYT’s story on the South Carolina decision to lower the Confederate flag (which I was honored to have a byline on) here.

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