With the summer tourism season ready to get underway in South Carolina, an environmental group held Hands Across the Sand in Myrtle Beach on Saturday to speak out against potential offshore exploration for oil and natural gas.
Several events were organized by Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA) across the East Coast this weekend, including Myrtle Beach and Folly Beach near Charleston. Attendees included environmental groups and local politicians who warn of potential oil drilling offshore.
Myrtle Beach City Councilman Wayne Gray said he worries drilling could harm the state’s largest service sector — tourism. “All of our council members realize and understand the importance of a tourism economy that it offers, not only Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand but South Carolina,” he said at Sunday’s event.
Surfside Beach Town Council member Julie Samples said that offshore drilling would hurt more than just tourism. “We need to be good stewards of our coastal environment and its resources. Not only because of the economic and ecological impact on our area, but because we have a responsibility to the many people who call this place home,” said Samples.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Management is taking public comments on allowing companies to test and drill for oil off the mid-Atlantic coast. The Obama Administration had said it would not allow testing for at least the next five years. However, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Interior to reconsider its decision shortly after taking office. Trump has supported increased drilling off the American coast, arguing it could create jobs in new regions.