From The State:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The four Republicans running for governor of South Carolina support drilling for natural gas off South Carolina’s shores and pushing the federal government to remove nuclear waste from the state. But they have different views on the type of oil exploration that has led to the massive Gulf oil spill.
Four-term U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, two-term Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, three-term state Rep. Nikki Haley and two-term Attorney General Henry McMaster all say natural gas reserves off South Carolina’s coast could be an economic boon to the state and help the country become energy independent.
Some experts doubt that commercially feasible oil exists off South Carolina’s coast, but three candidates want to explore, provided safeguards are in place. Haley compared the flow of crude in the Gulf of Mexico – what’s become the worst oil spill in U.S. history – to a plane crash.
“We don’t stop all the planes from flying. What we do is we look at that accident, we learn from it and say, ‘What do we need to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again?’ That’s the same thing here,” said Haley, 38, of Lexington.
Bauer said the $75 million federal cap on oil spill liability, beyond direct cleanup costs, must be lifted to prompt companies to use the latest technology and equipment.
But McMaster had more reservations, saying it may be impossible to ensure oil drilling can be done without a spill.
Barrett, Bauer and McMaster said outright that any drilling rigs must be far enough off shore to be out of sight from land. Barrett said no structures within 20 miles of the coast. Haley said she’d study the rigs’ effects on the environment and tourism before deciding.
All four champion the expansion of nuclear energy, both for job creation and as a clean energy solution. They support promoting other alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydrogen, but say only nuclear currently offers substantial energy output.
The Republicans believe plans for Yucca Mountain, a project 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, must get back on track so highly radioactive nuclear waste isn’t permanently stored in South Carolina. The Obama administration wants to halt plans to open the nuclear repository. South Carolina and Washington state are suing to prevent the federal government from killing the project.
Regardless, GOP candidates said, uncertainty on Yucca Mountain should not sidetrack nuclear energy.
But even with that repository, spent nuclear fuel rods should be recycled at the Savannah River Site for power plants, said Barrett, whose district includes the Department of Energy facility near Aiken.
“If we don’t continue down the recycling venue, then Yucca Mountain is literally full before it’s open,” said Barrett, 49, of Westminster. “Everything we’ve got stored right now will fill up Yucca Mountain.”
But that’s not what people are talking about. From The Post and Courier:
Republican voters may enter the voting booths June 8 without knowing if anything happened three years ago between gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and her onetime consultant, blogger Will Folks.
Folks sent tremors through the four-way Republican primary Monday by reporting on his website fitsnews.com that he and Haley had an “inappropriate physical relationship.”
Haley spent much of the rest of the week denying it, as Folks dribbled out text messages, phone records and other tidbits showing that the two once talked a lot.
They stopped short of proving any affair, but his blog posts often suggest there’s more to come.
“If this blogger had ironclad proof, and Haley were forced to admit it, that would be a completely different kettle of fish,” [Larry] Sabato [director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia] said, “but it hasn’t been proven. It just hasn’t.”
Sabato said Haley is winning the public relations battle against Folks, and he predicted that she will finish in the top two June 8, giving her a slot in a likely runoff June 22.
The campaigns of Haley’s rivals, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster, expressed a mix of exasperation of how the race was hijacked and hope for a calmer week ahead.
Barrett campaign manager Luke Byars noted that when Barrett was getting endorsed by the S.C. Minutemen Tuesday, reporters wanted to talk only about Haley.
Bauer’s longtime friend and adviser Rod Shealy said the Folks-Haley fracas changed the dynamics of the race, but he said Bauer hasn’t changed his campaign plans.
Rob Godfrey, McMaster’s communications director, said high-profile races often have distracting background noise.
Sabato said changing public mores mean that talk of an affair, even if it turns out to be true, isn’t as fatal to a campaign as it might have been 30 years ago.
Gov. Mark Sanford’s recent infidelity, which became known last summer after his absence from the state, was the most recent incident that deadens any potential shock.
“There have been so many scandals that people finally figured out that politicians are just like them, only maybe worse,” Sabato said.