Today, the South Carolina Senate voted to ban offshore oil and gas drilling off South Carolina’s coast through a budget-related measure called a “proviso,” which amends the state’s annual budget bill (H.4000). The measure prohibits South Carolina state or local government funds from being used to plan, permit or license any offshore oil and gas related activities for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.
The proviso was introduced by Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) and was joined by over 30 additional senators from both political parties. At a press conference announcing the effort, Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) and Attorney General Alan Wilson (R-South Carolina) reaffirmed their opposition to opening South Carolina’s coast to offshore drilling and endorsed the effort.
“I’ve spent time in the Gulf of Mexico. I know first-hand that offshore drilling would require massive industrialization of our coastline,” said Senator Campsen (R-Isle of Palms). “South Carolina is blessed with the most beautiful and historic coast in North America. Why would we subject our $23 billion tourism industry, lucrative coastal real estate markets, invaluable historic sites, world-class resorts, abundant fisheries, and extensive protected ecosystems to the industrialization and inevitable oil spills associated with offshore drilling? It makes no sense.”
Senator Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter) reasoned that addressing potential offshore drilling during the budget deliberation “makes perfect sense because coastal tourism drives South Carolina’s economy, generates billions of dollars for the state each year, and employs thousands of hardworking South Carolinians.”
“The message is loud and clear—state legislators agree with our governor and attorney general that South Carolina won’t jeopardize our pristine beaches and vibrant fisheries with the risk of a dirty oil spill,” said Samantha Siegel, Oceana’s South Carolina campaign organizer. “We applaud the South Carolina Senate for taking a stand today. It’s time for President Trump to end the threat to our shores.”
The Trump administration has proposed potential new offshore drilling leases in nearly all federal waters, including the Atlantic Ocean. In response, state leaders, and local municipalities and businesses along the East Coast are taking action to safeguard their communities and coastal economies from the risks of offshore oil drilling.
Today’s South Carolina Senate vote reflects the sentiments South Carolinians, where 26 municipalities and counties, including every coastal community in the state, have already adopted local resolutions opposing offshore drilling.
California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland and New Jersey have already enacted various laws to block new offshore drilling. Other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island are also considering state legislative measures to ban or restrict offshore drilling.
The Senate budget bill, H.4000, is expected to pass shortly and then head to the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit usa.oceana.org to learn more.