Notable & Quotable: Sept. 7, 2017

Posted

The Charleston Post and Courier urges S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster to join opposition to coastal drilling.

Every single coastal South Carolina government has formally opposed offshore oil drilling. So have Reps. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., Tom Rice, R-S.C., and James Clyburn, D-S.C. So have thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses up and down the Atlantic coastline.

Adding to the list, 32 Republicans and Democrats in the state House and Senate sent a letter last month to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opposing an effort by President Donald Trump's administration to open Atlantic waters to drilling.

Even with the safest and most modern technology, oil drilling remains a dirty and dangerous business, with the potential for toxic spills arising along every step of the way from oil rig to gas pump.

For a region so dependent on tourism, fishing and marine recreation, the theoretical benefits of offshore drilling simply do not outweigh the very real risks.

The rosiest estimates suggest that oil and gas could account for about $2.7 billion in economic impact for South Carolina over two decades. But tourists in the state - the majority of whom visit coastal areas - spend more than $20 billion each and every year.

It would be ludicrous to endanger that economic engine.

The legislators' letter also states that Gov. Henry McMaster has "vocally opposed offshore drilling." But that statement is misleading to say the least.

Mr. McMaster did indeed oppose offshore oil during his tenure as lieutenant governor and has made passing comments since that would suggest his opinion on the issue remains unchanged. But the governor has yet to formally state his disapproval of the plan.

The comment period to weigh in on the Trump administration's plan has already passed. But there is still time for Mr. McMaster to make his voice heard, and he should not hesitate to do so. Given the governor's early support for Mr. Trump's presidential campaign and his ongoing relationship with the president, it's entirely likely that Mr. McMaster's opposition might actually make a difference.

Offshore oil is not right for South Carolina. It's dirty. It's unnecessary. It's an economic risk. It's an environmental threat. And it's a menace to the quality of life of the state's coastal communities.

That's why so many of the state's elected officials have spoken out against drilling. It's time for Mr. McMaster to strongly affirm his opposition and take leadership of the issue.

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The Wall Street Journal discusses "The Dreamer Debacle," noting that "Cynical politics by both parties puts thousands of young adults in jeopardy."

President Trump is taking flak from all sides for ending his predecessor's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, thus putting some 800,000 young immigrants - so-called Dreamers - in legal limbo. Though the President and Barack Obama share responsibility for instigating the crisis, Mr. Trump and Congress now have an obligation to fix it and spare these productive young adults from harm they don't deserve.

The White House seems to understand the terrible political optics, which is why it has tossed the issue to Congress. It plans what it calls "an orderly wind-down of DACA" rather than wait for a potentially disruptive court injunction. Current Dreamers whose permits expire over the next six months will be allowed to apply for renewals by Oct. 5, though no new applications will be accepted.

This gives Congress at least some time to enact the current Dreamer legalization process in a statute that is the proper legal path under the Constitution's separation of powers. Mr. Trump signaled his willingness to sign such a bill on Tuesday when he tweeted, "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" We hope he means it.

This will be a test of the sincerity of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Some Republicans like Iowa Rep. Steve King will oppose any DACA legalization as "amnesty" and will want to load up a bill with poison pills that moderates and Democrats can't abide. Many Democrats may also be more than happy to block legislation and use the Dreamers as a cudgel against Republicans next year.

An obvious bipartisan solution would trade authorizing DACA in return for additional border enforcement. But Republicans should also be prepared to send Mr. Trump a clean authorization to make good on the government's moral obligation to these young people.

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The New York Times discusses "Donald Trump's Cowardice on Dreamers."

President Trump didn't even have the guts to do the job himself. Instead, he hid in the shadows and sent his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to do the dirty work of telling the country that the administration would no longer shield from deportation 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.

Mr. Sessions, a longtime anti-immigrant hard-liner, was more than up to the task. In a short, disingenuous speech, he said a program set up by President Barack Obama in 2012 - known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - was a lawless policy that "yielded terrible humanitarian consequences" and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens. (Mr. Trump echoed these claims in a statement released by the White House.) Mr. Sessions called DACA "an unconstitutional exercise of authority" and said "failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism."

False, false, false and false.

DACA recipients are not threats to public safety or national security; to the contrary, they must have a nearly spotless record to be eligible in the first place. They do not receive legal status in this country, only a two-year, renewable deferral of deportation along with a work permit and eligibility for other government benefits down the road. And they are not taking jobs from native-born Americans, whose declining levels of employment can be chalked up to other factors.

Mr. Trump has no good rejoinder. That's partly because there isn't one and partly because, as is so often the case, he doesn't fully understand the scope of what he's done. One would hope that the widespread outrage at Tuesday's announcement, and the impending suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who've done nothing but try to become contributing members of society, might impress it upon him.

Notable & Quotable is compiled by Graham Osteen. Contact him at graham@theitem.com.