February 05, 2016
By Beaufort, N.C. Mayor Richard Stanley and Beaufort, S.C. Mayor Billy Keyserling
As mayors of beautiful coastal cities in our respective states, we represent thousands of residents who oppose opening our treasured Southeast coastlines to offshore oil and gas exploration and development. Since the federal government introduced a proposal earlier this year to initiate offshore drilling in the South Atlantic, our hometowns of Beaufort have joined more than 80 coastal towns, cities, and counties in passing resolutions against Atlantic offshore drilling and the harmful seismic testing that precedes it.
We may not agree on how to pronounce the names of our towns (“BOW-fer,” NC vs. “BYOO-fert,” SC), but we do agree that offshore drilling would jeopardize what makes our hometowns special. As do all the beautiful Southeast places you’ve vacationed to and that attract visitors around the world, from Charleston and Savannah to Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks.
We are opposed because the estimated oil and gas reserves would have very little impact upon the world’s supply and availability, while at the same time a spill or environmental catastrophe would have a devastating effect on our local economies, natural resources and wildlife while offering no local funding toward restoration or cleanup.
For those of us living and working on the coast, the stakes are clear and the risks are too great. From our seafood industries and cultural traditions to our pristine beaches, offshore drilling is fundamentally incompatible with the existing quality of life and the irreplaceable natural resources of our Southern coasts.
Millions of visitors come to the Southeast coast each year to enjoy our unique historic character and the natural beauty of our coastlines. For the hundreds of towns that line the Southern coast, tourism is our economic backbone—a multi-billion dollar industry that employs tens of thousands of residents.
Coastal leaders know better than anyone just how much a spill would damage our economies. Imagine the impact on the fishing outfitters, the shrimp shacks, and the beachside hotels if a spill left oil in our waters and tar on our beaches. Consider how our fisheries would suffer, affecting everyone from the boat crews to the chefs in our cities’ prized restaurants.
The incredible devastation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident may have faded from memory for some, but communities and businesses in the Gulf continue to struggle to recover.
And even without a spill, the heavy infrastructure required for drilling—the rigs, tanker traffic, refineries, and pipelines—would change the character of our coast. The small potential reward being dangled by the industry is nowhere close to what would be placed in jeopardy.