This letter to the editor is a response to Perry Collin’s support for offshore drilling and gas exploration. As a native of Georgetown County and lifetime resident, I am appalled at the lack of insight into the coastal economies that Mr. Perry Collins directly relates his support of offshore drilling.

Our coastal economy has always been essentially tied to the beauty and bounty of our beaches, marshes, wetlands, rivers, and maritime forests. If South Carolinians did not have the abundance of these natural resources, we simply would not have the economy that we now enjoy. It is the sheer fact that because we live in such a pristine coastal environment, that we can thrive as a tourist destination.

Basically, 100 percent of our income depends on our tourist-based economy. If we reflect on the Gulf Coast and its BP oil spill, we can see that the risk outweighs the benefit for offshore gas exploration and subsequent drilling. Having been a lifetime resident, I have not only spent 30 years in the tourist-based service industry but was blessed by being able to spend my life on our beautiful beaches, waterways, and marshes.

Mr. Collins neglected to discuss the consequences that every person living here would have if we endured an oil spill off our coast. We would put all the service industry out of work for an unknown amount of time, the booming real estate economy would plummet, our beloved fisheries would be destroyed, our beautiful beaches and wildlife would be detrimentally polluted, and our health would be compromised. We simply are not in the position to risk the incomes of millions of citizens because some feel that it would provide a better economy than what we already have.

The support of offshore drilling and gas exploration is shortsighted, and honestly not considerate of our communities, families, children and wildlife. We, as South Carolinians, have always taken great pride in our pristine natural environments. Our coastal ecosystems and economies supply a great quality of life, and provide an abundance of recreation, happiness, and family memories. Our beaches are not only special, they are a part of our culture and an integral part of our heritage.

Kelly Shelton

Murrells Inlet