Tybee Island, Georgia will be the next town to take up the question of offshore drilling with a vote scheduled tomorrow. On Tuesday three more coastal towns—North Carolina's Holden Beach and Oak Island, and South Carolina's Surfside Beach—passed unanimous resolutions opposing the federal plan for offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Southeast Atlantic. These municipalities join dozens of others sending a message to officials that drilling off the coast of the Atlantic is not worth the risk to local economies and ecosystems.
“As residents of a fragile barrier island with an economy based on eco-tourism, we need to take a strong stand against risky exploitation of our marine resources," said Paul Wolff, a Tybee Island City Councilmember. "Any finite income from potential offshore oil rigs is vastly overshadowed by the annual revenue we derive from birdwatchers, kayakers, beach-goers, and dolphin tours. Why would we even consider sacrificing our entire economy and quality of life for what would amount to a few years' worth of oil and gas that would probably end up being exported anyway, rather than helping us become energy independent?"
Residents in Surfside Beach echoed these sentiments during the public comment period, citing threats to the local economy, tourism, and fishing, as well as concerns over a possible oil spill and the industrialization that accompanies drilling.
“It’s imperative that we protect our coast,” Surfside Beach Councilman David Pellegrino told WMBF. “Really the only influence we have is that the state legislature and federal government understand what people in this area want.”
In January, Tybee Island voted against the federal proposal permitting seismic testing, which is used prior to drilling to locate possible oil reserves. The practice is known to have severe impacts on marine life, including important fisheries. The sound of one seismic gun going off is equivalent to a sound louder than a jet engine at 100 feet of earshot, and can be heard for hundreds of miles. Seismic testing utilizes these blasts every ten seconds for days or weeks, with multiple companies covering the same areas repeatedly. Tybee Island’s vote Thursday allows the city to add opposition to offshore drilling to this earlier vote.
Visit protectourcoastnow.com for opportunities to get involved and more information about the movement to protect the Southeastern coast from offshore oil drilling.