News | May 22, 2015

Memorial Day holiday reminds us what offshore drilling puts at risk

As the country readies for one of the biggest summer travel weekends of the year, the threat of offshore drilling looms for those enjoying Atlantic beaches this Memorial Day. 

Tourism is the economic backbone of hundreds of towns and cities along the Southeast coast that rely on pristine waters and sandy beaches to draw visitors. Estimates show that ocean-dependent tourism brings in approximately $5 billion to states in the southeast alone. 

Meanwhile, the recent spill in Santa Barbara, California demonstrates how quickly all that can be spoiled. This week a ruptured pipeline spewed more than 100,000 gallons of oil onto the coast, sending an estimated 21,000 gallons into the Pacific Ocean. The oil has closed the popular campground at Refugio State Beach, as well as fishing and shellfishing waters in Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara spill is a vivid reminder of how the industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling—the rigs, refineries, pipelines, and traffic—would irreparably change our coastal communities. 

Recognition of these risks led more than 60 cities and towns to pass resolutions against offshore drilling and the associated seismic testing. Most recently, leaders in the following communities have joined groups like the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce and taken a stand against the federal drilling proposal:

  •     Brusnwick, GA
  •     Charleston, SC
  •     Columbia, SC
  •     Savannah, GA
  •     Tybee, GA

Our fact sheet offers a more in-depth look at why SELC and our partners are urging the Department of the Interior to reverse course on offshore oil leasing in the Southeast.