Myrtle Beach Becomes 71st Community to Oppose Oil Exploration off the Southeast Coast

by Carolyn Sotka and Samantha Siegel

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Over 150 concerned citizens joined the August 11th – Myrtle Beach City Council meeting to voice opposition against seismic testing and oil and gas activities in the state. The City Council passed a resolution against these activities 6-1. Photo by Randy Sturgill.

Yesterday, Myrtle Beach became the 20th community in South Carolina to oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling. Today, nearly 90% of coastal communities across the state have passed resolutions in staunch opposition.

“This offshore drilling is not going to be any benefit to this county and this city, ever.” Mayor of Myrtle Beach, John Rhodes told Myrtle Beach’s Sun News.

U.S. Representative Mark Sanford, R-S.C. has joined these communities and recently asked the Bureau of Energy Management to cease plans for seismic testing off the coast of South Carolina. Despite these unified voices, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley continues to endorse and promote oil and gas activities.

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk has earned prestigious accolades in recent years. Travel and Leisure and National Geographic both named the Boardwalk one of the best in the United States

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This year, Myrtle Beach won the top tourism award in South Carolina. Image from Pintrest.

If the Obama Administration and Governor Haley continue to support opening this heavily populated and much-visited coastline to oil and gas – this landscape could change dramatically – from boardwalks and blue-green waters to oil rigs, tankers and a very different industry with the constant and looming threat, of an oil spill or chronic discharges.

Like Myrtle Beach, 71 communities along the East Coast have passed resolutions against seismic testing and offshore drilling. Resolutions like these are important because they help engage coastal residents in the process and improve understanding of the science, economics and risks of seismic testing – and eventual drilling – that risks will not outweigh the rewards.

In South Carolina alone – fishing, tourism, and recreational activities support close to 80,000 jobs and generate about $4.4 billion in GDP. For coastal communities, clean and healthy beaches and seaside attractions are not just a nice perk of the location, they are a livelihood.

Research has shown that economically recoverable oil and gas believed to exist off South Carolina would last for around six days, based on current domestic consumption rates. It is time to learn from the tarred history of oil disasters in the U.S., as most recently seen in Santa Barbara, California in May and the 8,000 barrel pipeline-borne gasoline spilled into the Savannah River on the South Carolina and Georgia coastal plain earlier this summer. It’s time for President Obama and Governor Haley support their constituents and reverse the decision to allow for seismic blasting as a first step to full drilling in the Atlantic.

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Citizens cheer as the Myrtle Beach City Council passes a resolution opposing offshore drilling Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Charles Slate. 

Myrtle Beach Council member Philip Render told Myrtle Beach’s Sun News. “There are some votes that are visceral…when you know what the right vote is. And this is one of those times.”

The people of Myrtle Beach took action to protect their coastline. If drilling is allowed to go forward, future resolutions that city councils up and down the East Coast may take up, could be requests for restitution for oil-damaged beaches, dead or oil soaked marine animals and critical habitat and loss of a way of life that relies on thriving and strong coastal economies.

Take action today to tell Congress and the Obama Administration that Americans are saying NO to seismic testing and offshore drilling.

Learn more about the issue in South Carolina and sign the Don’t Drill SC petition.

Learn more about U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford’s reversed position and  opposition to oil and gas in Sanford Shifts Stance, Opposes Offshore Testing, Drilling by Bo Peterson, Charleston Post and Courier.

To learn more about the suite of deleterious impacts and other damages associated with the first phase of seismic testing and later drilling, check out our recent Scuttlefish coverage:

Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in the Southeast Atlantic: What You Need to Know. What You Can Do. A Scuttlefish Feature. Part I.

Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in the Southeast Atlantic: What You Can Do – State by State. A Scuttlefish Feature. Part II. (This includes Oceana’s Top Ten Actions You Can Take and other helpful resources.)

Rebel Yell – How the Confederate Flag Might Scuttle Oil Exploration off the Southeastern Coast.

Stop. Watch This Now. This is What Happened in Santa Barbara and Will Happen to Your Coast if Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Proceeds.

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