Hoping to whip up opponents ahead of a federal agency’s hearing Tuesday, several South Carolina lawmakers slammed a proposal to open up South Carolina’s offshore waters to oil and natural gas exploration.
Speaking at a rally of about 200 people at the Statehouse Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-SC, said the decision needs to be up to the local governments, not Washington.
“It goes to the heart of what we believe as South Carolinians and what we believe as Americans on who decides how hamlets and towns and villages on the coast of South Carolina are developed,” he said.
A bipartisan gathering of state lawmakers were at the rally. State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, told the crowd they have her support despite her district being inland. “It makes sense that people of all political persuasions come together on this issue.”
Recently-elected State Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Daniel Island, does represent a coastal district and worked with then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in South Carolina.
“We do not need the White House, the federal government telling South Carolina what to do in our industry or off of our coast,” Mace said.
State Rep. Robert Brown, D-Hollywood, told the crowd that the industry would hurt property values and ruin the beaches. “We don’t need the unsightly oil rigs and the smelly pipelines sprawled across our beaches and across our coast,” he said.
Tuesday’s rally came hours before the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s public hearing in Columbia on the Trump administration’s proposal to allow surveys for oil or gas deposits off most of the Atlantic continental shelf. Drilling supporters later held a news conference before the hearing.
It was one of the federal agency’s public sessions being held over the next few months in South Atlantic states and is the only hearing planned for South Carolina.