Lost in the shuffle of the tomato crisis, the end of Spoleto, the early heat wave, and sky-high food and gasoline prices, came news that U.S. Rep. Henry Brown (R-S.C.) had received a Friend of the Coast award from the American Shore and Beach Protection Association (ASBPA).
This is a nationally based political lobbying group for the beach renourishment folks who themselves are nourished by federal subsidies. There's a lot of yammering about providing engineering solutions for responsible beach access and protection, but the bottom line is that the group is a D.C. mouthpiece for taxpayer-supported sand castles.
Naturally, Congressman Brown, who the association calls a "tireless and extremely effective advocate for coastal America," is a favorite of everybody who was dumb enough to build on a dune line.
About the award, Brown said, "We in South Carolina know our coasts are among our greatest national treasures, and I am grateful for the work that the ASBPA does to protect the health of our nation's coasts."
I found this ironic given that two days earlier on June 3, Brown had signed on as a cosponsor of Rep. Sue Myrick's (R-NC) Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act.
This little gem of a retread, last defeated in 2006, is looking to lift the federal ban against individual states allowing offshore drilling along their respective coasts. The bill proposes that any profits have to be shared by neighboring states if the oil platform is located within a to-be-specified distance of common borders. Throwing a bone to the tree huggers, Myrick inserted a provision to protect coastlines by mandating a 50-mile buffer zone.
Great idea, Mr. Friend of the Coast. Let's put oil wells in Hurricane Alley along the coastline of a poor state supported by tourism.
If you haven't noticed, the Republican noise machine is out there harping on domestic drilling as its marquee issue for the upcoming general election. And last Wednesday, Brown demonstrated his penchant for following the GOP herd by signing on to the No More Excuses Energy Act discharge petition, which would open the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve to oil recovery.
On June 5 during a debate on tourism and recreation in the Chesapeake Bay, Henry showed a capacity for remaining on topic. He said, "On behalf of all the recreational and commercial fishermen, the shrimpers, the tour boat operators, and recreational boaters in coastal South Carolina, I would like to ask the Democratic majority: Why are we not voting today on the many pieces of legislation that have been introduced that would open up domestic sources of energy and help them get back on the water immediately."
According to a 1999 U.S. Geological Survey Report, there are only 3.2 billion barrels of usable oil in ANWR, and it could be 10 years before the first barrels make it to market. Even worse, those 3.2 billion barrels won't even meet the oil guzzling demands of Americans for six months.
A quick trip through Brown's website shows that his priorities are with the energy industry and not his constituents. He starts out by endorsing research that will "convert the kinetic energy of waves, currents, and tidal streams into electricity" and by supporting more money for hydrogen-energy technology.
The money shot is in the last line: "I strongly believe that if we do not invest in American energy resources such as additional refining capacity and allowing more nuclear power to come on-line, the price we all currently see at the gas pump will have nowhere to go but up."
It's that kind of long-view thinking that makes beach renourishment projects such unqualified successes.