Joe Cunningham's offshore drilling ban passes with zero votes from S.C. Republicans

Wilson and Rice have previously said they oppose drilling

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Rep. Joe Cunningham's bill banning offshore drilling and exploration passed the House on Wed. Sept. 11 - C-SPAN
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  • Rep. Joe Cunningham's bill banning offshore drilling and exploration passed the House on Wed. Sept. 11
Congressman Joe Cunningham's bipartisan proposal to ban drilling off the Atlantic coast passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, but besides Cunningham, no other S.C. politicians voted for the resolution.

Cunningham's bill, H.R. 1941, the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, would bar the Department of the Interior from leasing areas off the the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines designated in an earlier gas and oil proposal in January 2018.

The measure was passed along a mostly party-line vote with a handful of other drilling legislation that would tighten oil exploration in Alaska and Florida.



Despite the state of South Carolina's suit against the federal government and two S.C. Republicans standing against offshore drilling, a grand total of 12 House Republicans voted for Cunningham's bill.

Congressman James Clyburn supports his fellow Charleston rep's bill, his office says, but was not present for the vote, leaving Cunningham as the sole S.C. vote cast in favor.
Cunningham anchored his successful 2018 campaign on a promise to push for a drilling ban, a measure he was able to use as leverage against former House Rep. Katie Arrington, who previously praised Trump for lifting the ban on drilling. Arrington now works in cybersecurity at the Department of Defense.

Since being elected, Cunningham has worked with a bipartisan group of coastal leaders who have all lined up against offshore drilling to advance the ban.
Republican Reps. Joe Wilson and Tom Rice, the two other coastal congressmen, have said they oppose offshore drilling in the past, but both voted "No" on Wednesday. According to The State, Wilson says he's been influenced to oppose drilling as the state takes part in a lawsuit against the federal government, led by his son, Attorney General Alan Wilson.

In a statement Wednesday, Rice said he was opposed to drilling and testing, but called the legislation "misguided," seeming to confine his interests to the waters immediately off his district along the northern coastline of the state.

Those arguments don't hold water, Cunningham told The State.

"This bill is a response to states making that decision because we have a collection of letters from governors saying they don’t want it ... They have spoken," Cunningham said.

Inland GOP Reps. Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, and William Timmons, also voted against the measure.

Duncan spoke against the bill after Cunningham made his pitch on the floor of the House, saying the bill would jeopardize national security by making the U.S. more reliant on Russia, rather than the "the natural resources that we're blessed with in this nation." At Lander University last year, Duncan said he believes that, "God gave us the ability to discover there are resources known as fossil fuels inside the Earth that we can extract."

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