Last night, the City Council of Charleston, South Carolina passed a resolution to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic. The resolution is timely as the U.S. Department of Interior has recently proposed opening the Atlantic to offshore drilling and is seeking comments on the proposal until Tuesday, March 30. Charleston’s resolution will be passed on to the Dept. of Interior as an indication of local opposition to their proposal.
Charleston’s resolution is the ninth such resolution to come from South Carolina municipalities since last year and joins Port Royal, Beaufort, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Town of James Island, James Island Public Service District, Sullivans Island, and Isle of Palms in expressing formal opposition. These South Carolina towns are among the 45 municipalities up and down the Atlantic coast that have expressed opposition to offshore oil & gas extraction and/or seismic exploration.
In addition to the municipal resolutions, a number of counties and chambers of commerce have also passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and/or seismic exploration, and other municipalities have expressed opposition in ways other than a resolution, such as writing letters to state and federal regulators.
This movement of coastal communities expressing their opposition to offshore drilling is indicative of what coastal citizens think about the risk of offshore drilling and its dirty onshore impacts. The quality of life we coastal residents enjoy is predicated upon a unspoiled coastal environment with clean beaches, marshes, and rivers. These coastal assets and the quality of life we enjoy on the coast are also primary drivers of our economy, bringing in tourists and recruiting new businesses and residents to grow our economy. Coastal citizens and decision makers do not feel it is appropriate to risk these assets with the gamble of offshore drilling, risking catastrophic spills and the industrialization of our beautiful coast with onshore infrastructure such as refineries and pipelines.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley described this overwhelming sentiment in his comments last night:
“Our coast is not for sale […] there can’t be enough money” offered by the prospect of offshore drilling to compromise our environment and way of life.
Meanwhile Councilmember Perry Waring related the diligence we have on homeland security at our port to the threats posed by offshore drilling. We are proactive in protecting our port and harbor from terrorist threats by not letting unauthorized boats come too close to the port facilities and by scanning the containers that come into the port–so why would we invite the threat to our harbor of an oil spill?
Mayor Riley and Councilman Waring spoke strongly of the good opportunity of investing in clean energy such as offshore wind as an alternative strategy to offshore drilling.
We feel that the movement of coastal communities’ opposition to offshore drilling presents more than adequate evidence to the Department of Interior that its proposal to risk our coast by opening the Atlantic to offshore drilling is grossly inappropriate for our coast. We hope they will listen to the citizens that would actually be affected and remove the Atlantic lease sale from their currently proposed five year program.