Shepard Fairey/ Courtesy of Don't Drill Lowcountry
"Paradise Turns" by Shepard Fairey
A new group based out of Sullivan’s Island is taking a stand against offshore oil exploration in South Carolina – and they’ve even gotten Shepard Fairey to throw his paint behind the effort.
Don’t Drill Lowcountry is a grassroots campaign that has united with almost 40 organization and businesses, including the Coastal Conservation League, S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Gullah Geechee Nation, and Charleston Waterkeeper. Fairey has donated use of a special design for the group, who are focused on one goal: removing South Carolina from the lease sale in the Mid- and South Atlantic regions, stretching from Virginia to Georgia, that would open the East Coast up for drilling for the first time in more than 30 years. The potential sale was met with strong resistance as cities and towns all along the coast passed resolutions against exploring oil and natural gas in the Atlantic.
“People from all over the place, from all political realms have come forward and said, ‘This is an important issue to me. What can I do?’” said Sarah Church, group spokesperson and Sullivan’s Island Town Council member. “We haven’t really had to push ourselves on people because people are flocking to us as fast as we can handle them, which is very exciting for our prospects. The more people we can get involved and engaged, the better our chances of getting this reversed.”
Since the period for public comments for the lease sale has passed, Don’t Drill Lowcountry is relying on an appeal to Gov. Nikki Haley, who they say has enough influence to take South Carolina off the table.
A member of the group wrote to the governor expressing opposition to Haley’s support of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s issuance of permits for offshore seismic testing and drilling for oil and gas reserves off the eastern Atlantic coast.
In a response from the governor’s office, Haley said, “For too long, we have undermined our national security by relying upon countries opposed to our interests in order to secure energy that drives America’s industrial and military might. Although it is essential that we further develop domestic energy sources – including advanced and alternative technologies – the government should not pick and choose specific areas for further exploration.”
While this initial appeal to Haley was unsuccessful, Don’t Drill Lowcountry has been able to rally an incredible number of supporters, all willing to contact the governor’s office.
The local organization has been part of an effort that’s collected approximately 5,000 signatures for a petition against offshore energy exploration, according to Conservation Voters of South Carolina. After establishing a sturdy support base, Don’t Drill Lowcountry is ready to hold its first rally Sept. 15 at Charleston Resort and Marina, 32 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant. The event will feature speakers Sen. Chip Campsen and Rep. Mark Sanford, who originally favored offshore energy exploration and seismic testing. Sanford reversed his position after realizing that information gathered during testing would be proprietary and not available to the public.