HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Surfrider Grand Strand will be protesting offshore drilling of the Mid and South Atlantic coasts Wednesday.
Protestors will travel to Charleston, SC to a public hearing at Wyndham Garden in the Mount Pleasant area located on 1330 Stuart Engals Boulevard. The hearing will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Members of Congress introduced the legislation and according to the Surfrider Grand Strand Facebook page, Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, of North Carolina, filed an amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill that requires the White House to include the Mid- and South-Atlantic in the Five Year Drilling Offshore Drilling Program for 2017 to 2022. Governor Nikki Haley and the governors of North Carolina and Virginia support the legislation suggesting that the drilling will provide oil and gas revenue, and more jobs.
Pier 14's owner Bryan Devereux thinks an off-shore drilling rig could mean a boost in business. "I think it's a novelty that people would like to see," he explained. "Visitors here, they come to look at the beach. They sunbathe. If there was an oil rig out there, I'm sure they'd be happy to look at that." Devereux said. "We need the oil," he said.
On the other hand, protestors believe offshore drilling will damage the marine ecosystem, tourism, fishing, and recreation industries. Nikki Smith said her family visit Myrtle Beach from Michigan because of the view. "Every morning when we wake up we look out the window and see dolphins, which is pretty exciting for myself and my children," Smith said. After President Barack Obama lifted off-shore drilling restrictions, ocean views could include oil drilling rigs off the South Carolina coast.
An event called "Hands Across the Sand" was held to bring attention to the dangers that offshore drilling can bring to oceans and marine wildlife. In 2010, people joined hands on 659 beaches across America.
Federal and state leaders have been pushing to open the Atlantic to drilling but Surfrider chapters have been rallying and are opposed to the drilling. Chapters have been passing local resolutions to prevent testing and drilling.