South Carolina Citizens Say No Offshore Drilling

Chris Carnevale | September 18, 2015 | Energy Policy, Offshore Drilling
It was standing room only as more than 300 Lowcountry residents gathered to stop offshore drilling

An overflow crowd of more than 300 coastal South Carolinian citizens gathered at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday night to stand up to protect the coast from offshore drilling. The event served as the official launch of a new grassroots citizens group, called Don’t Drill SC-Lowcountry.

Don’t Drill SC-Lowcountry describes themselves as “a citizen-led non-partisan grassroots movement to protect South Carolina’s spectacular coastline from offshore drilling. Don’t Drill SC-Lowcountry was formed by a committed group of Sullivan’s Islanders passionate about protecting our spectacular coastline, wildlife and natural resources. As part of the anti-drilling movement that has surged across the state, we have joined forces with municipalities, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to stop oil companies from drilling off the South Carolina Coast.”

Yard signs like this one have popped up all over the Charleston area.

The group’s launch comes on the heels of the launch of a similar citizens group in the Grand Strand of South Carolina, called SODA-POP (Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic – Prevent Oil Pollution), which has revealed massive opposition to offshore drilling from citizens and businesses from Georgetown, SC to North Myrtle Beach, SC. SODA member JeanMarie Neal was quoted in the Post & Courier as saying that their core members number over 1,500 strong.

Taking a cue from citizens, the local governments elected to represent them have been turning out in force to oppose offshore drilling. South Carolina now has 22 coastal municipalities that have formally opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic testing, representing the entire coastline, from Hilton Head Island to North Myrtle Beach. Increasingly, Republican lawmakers have been sounding the alarm as well. Tuesday’s event featured comments from Republican Congressman and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Republican State Senator Chip Campsen, from Isle of Palms, opposing Atlantic offshore drilling. The message they imparted was clear–the conservative thing to do is to listen to voice of the local communities and not let Washington D.C. force offshore drilling upon us. Senator Campsen remarked that there’s nothing liberal about stewarding our incredible God-given environment so that future generations can enjoy it as past generations already have.

SACE staffer Chris Carnevale with Congressman Mark Sanford, gathering to oppose offshore drilling.

A particularly interesting comment came from Senator Campsen about the corrupting influence of lobbying money that would inevitably come to our state capitals if the oil & gas industry were allowed to set up shop along the South Atlantic. Campsen compared the oil & gas industry to the video poker industry, which had a brief existence in South Carolina. He recalled how even though there was strong opposition to video poker, the Legislature could not act to remove it because of the sheer volume of campaign contributions and money spent on lobbying by the video poker companies. Similarly, Senator Campsen warned, if we allow the oil & gas industry to move into our state, every other business and all citizens will lose their influence in the capitol to the industry money that will be inevitable poured in.

While intense opposition is mounting to offshore drilling, citizens are increasingly looking for clean energy alternatives. Just last week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management unveiled draft areas for offshore wind off of South Carolina’s coast, which would allow for responsible offshore energy development in years to come–unlike oil & gas.

The case keeps building that offshore drilling is no good for South Carolina or the other Atlantic states, and we continue to call on Governor Haley to request removal of the waters off of South Carolina’s coast from consideration for offshore drilling. Sign the petition to Governor Haley here.

Chris Carnevale
Chris is SACE’s Climate Advocacy Director. Chris joined the SACE staff in 2011 to help with building public understanding and engagement around clean energy solutions to the climate crisis. Chris…
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