Local leaders speak out against President Trump’s offshore drilling order

Local leaders speak out against President Trump’s offshore drilling order

WPDE-TV Florence, SC

May 4, 2017

by Liz Cooper (Watch video)

Representatives from across the area, along with members of Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA), gathered at Damon’s Ribs in Myrtle Beach Thursday morning and all stressed the negative impacts offshore drilling could have to the coastal communities. (WPDE)

Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) — President Donald Trump is encouraging companies to begin offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast. He signed an executive order last week, allowing gas and oil drilling along certain coasts. He says it will be beneficial to the country’s economy.

But Horry and Georgetown County leaders say not so fast.

“Tourism is our only industry,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes. “We cannot afford to have anything that would have the potential to disrupt our industry.”

Representatives from councils of North Myrtle Beach, Briar Cliff Acres, Atlantic Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Georgetown, along with members of Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA), gathered at Damon’s Ribs in Myrtle Beach Thursday morning. They all stressed the negative impacts offshore drilling could have to the coastal communities. They said their fear is what happened in the Gulf of Mexico with the BP oil spill could occur in this area.

“Accidents happen,” said North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley. “It’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when it will happen.”

Rhodes said, ultimately, 39,000 jobs could be in jeopardy if something were to affect the tourism industry. They said the number of jobs created from offshore drilling wouldn’t compare.

“Those jobs will be brought in. People will be brought in because we don’t have the experience of offshore drilling here in Horry County,” said Hatley.

But other people said there is something to gain from offshore drilling.

“A lot of us here go to different destinations and fish a lot of places where they have offshore wells,” said Captain J. Baisch. He was born and raised on the Grand Strand. He’s been professionally fishing off the coast for about 13 years. “It opens up a new fishery.”

While he said he’s not completely in favor of offshore drilling, he said the wells would create reefs and an area where fish would congregate.

“It would be the same kinds of fish we have and it all depends on how deep they put it,” said Baisch.

Local leaders said there aren’t enough safety measurements in place for them to support this industry in our area. They said the BP oil spill was human error. They said they can’t take that risk.

“Any oil that they would get out of the Atlantic, a small amount, would be sold somewhere, not used in the United States,” said Jim Watkins, chair of the leadership team of SODA. “The major cause of oil spills is human error and technology may improve but human error is always there.”

But Bausch said if fuel prices went down because of offshore drilling he would be happy. He said that’s a huge cost burden to fisherman.

“If you run a boat you get about two miles a gallon so fuel affects us more than almost anybody I know,” said Baisch.

Senator Tim Scott has said he’s in favor of offshore drilling. He released a statement Thursday:

The administration has opted to review the five-year plan on offshore drilling and it is incumbent upon Interior Secretary Zinke to gather the facts and make the right decision moving forward. I would encourage the administration to partner with the states impacted by the potential of offshore drilling to ensure any future plans are developed with input from local residents.

Local leaders said Thursday they encourage people to reach out to their representatives expressing their concerns about offshore drilling.

http://wpde.com/news/local/local-leaders-speak-out-against-president-trumps-offshore-drilling-order