DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard/Released
In response to opposition from communities all along the Southeast coast, the Obama administration is removing the Atlantic region from plans that would have opened the area up to offshore drilling and seismic exploration.
Originally pitched as a way to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil, the plan would have allowed companies to lease federal waters in the Atlantic to drill for oil for the first time in more than 30 years. The proposal was met with strong resistance from environmentalist groups and those living along the coast who feared the effects of the industry on their way of life. Charleston City Council passed a resolution last year to oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling, joining dozens of other cities and counties and hundreds of small-business owners along the state’s coast.
On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced on Twitter that the next five-year offshore proposed plan “protects the Atlantic for future generations.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan, who visited Charleston last year to champion offshore energy exploration, called the decision a disappointment. On the other side, Rep. Mark Sanford applauded the decision and took the opportunity to thank local leaders like Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil and Mt. Pleasant Mayor Linda Page for opposing the proposed plan.
“This is fantastic news for the coast of South Carolina. It’s a decision that speaks volumes to the importance of voicing one’s opinion and local input in the political process,” he stated in a press release. “Residents along our coast should be proud of the way they united on this issue and sent a compelling message to Washington.”
In response to the administration’s announcement, Hamilton Davis, energy and climate director for the Coastal Conservation League, released a statement, saying, “This decision is a testament to the fact that local voices still matter on national issues. The coastal communities in South Carolina that would have been most impacted by offshore drilling stood up to Big Oil and won. What a victory for our environment, our economy, and the future of our coast.”