Off-shore drilling could have big impact on Grand Strand

Off-shore drilling could have big impact on Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A controversial debate is hot again after Tuesday the Obama Administration brought forth a plan to open parts of the Atlantic coast to offshore drilling.

Coastal Carolina University professor, Dr. Paul Gayes, with the Coastal and Marine Systems Science at the university, says we could see a significant impact on the Grand Strand.

"It's very difficult to say that society is not having an impact, we're having an impact and we're changing things, we can project what can happen, but there is such an enormous consequence that it would be best to be very conservative," explained Gayes, discussing how America uses an abundant amount of oil and gas to fuel our economy.

According to the Associated Press, under the Obama Administration's proposal, more than 50 miles off the Atlantic coast from Virginia, North and South Carolina, to Georgia would be available to oil companies no earlier than 2021.

Oil companies are praising the plan, however, Dr. Gayes said our nation should start looking at how to become more efficient, saying it is a very important thing for society to find the easiest way to drop the consumption.

"It is critical to find the proper way to find an energy mixture for the resources that we use to fuel our economy and our way of life," said Dr. Gayes.

Recent reports for the Associated Press stated, South Carolina's Governor Nikki Haley said if the federal government would lease to gas and oil companies, it could equal jobs and investments for the Palmetto State. Meanwhile, some environmental groups have blasted the idea of offshore drilling, arguing the safety practices of drilling hasn't progressed enough since the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

Dr. Gayes said, "There is so much importance on our functions of those environments for our fishery resources and places well along the South Carolina coast, tourism-based economies - those areas have particular concern."

Oil companies have fought hard to open the Atlantic Ocean to drilling, but it still uncertain just how much oil and gas lies out there, and Gayes said anytime there is an environmental shift of this magnitude, it can have an drastic impact.

"[We can see] the change in the water temperatures that is going on; the kinds of species, that would not normally be in certain areas because it would be too cold are starting to find themselves in areas that they would not ordinarily be in," explained Gayes.

Tuesday, Obama administration officials emphasized that the proposal would be subject to revision, and  U.S. Interior Department officials have said they plan to hold more than 20 public hearings on the proposal.

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