Myrtle Beach City Council votes to oppose offshore drilling - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

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Myrtle Beach City Council votes to oppose offshore drilling

Source: AP Graphics Source: AP Graphics

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – In a 6 to 1 vote, the Myrtle Beach City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday afternoon opposing offshore drilling and exploration for oil and gas off the state's coast.

However, not every councilmember was on board.

Councilman Randal Wallace strongly opposed the resolution, asking council to hold an education forum so the public could be better prepared to make their own opinions regarding offshore drilling.

Other councilmembers were not convinced, saying the supporters have had plenty of time to make their voices heard.

One of those voices was Bill Crowther, the President of the Atlantic Energy Alliance.

“70 percent of the United States is in support of oil and gas and 30 percent are against it. They’re mostly retired, they’ve got their piece of the pie and aren’t concerned with creating jobs,” said Crowther.

He believes it could benefit both Horry and Georgetown Counties with high paying jobs and by creating a different industry other than tourism for the area.

During the workshop, councilman Mike Lowder stated his opinions, saying that very industry of tourism is something he wants to protect.

“No one has any idea, and no one can predict what Mother Nature is going to do. One day that event washes up on shore of our most precious resource, the beach,” said Lowder.

Crowther pointed out that between the currents and the distance offshore, drilling would have minimal impact on the shore itself.

“If anything happened it would be caught in northeast currents and never make it to shore. We believe the risks are minimal of anything like that happening,” explained Crowther.

His counterpoint didn’t matter today, as council made it clear they had made up their minds.

When the vote passed, it was welcome news to the wave of anti-drilling supporters in attendance.

“Being a Myrtle Beach resident, and I love Myrtle Beach, I wanted to see our community take that stand,” beamed Sally P. Howard following the meeting.

Howard said her and the group of anti-offshore drilling proponents plan to tackle North Myrtle Beach next.

However, the future remains murky for the waters off the Myrtle Beach coast already.

Crowther pointed out this resolution wont stop companies from moving forward.

“This is in Federal water. While they do let the governor have a say-so, the states really don’t control it,” he said.

Myrtle Beach is now the 20th community to publicly oppose seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling off the coast of South Carolina, according to a news release from Oceana, an international organization focused on protecting the world’s oceans. The city of Charleston, along with other Palmetto State communities like James Island, Folly Beach and the Isle of Palms have all already come out against the drilling.  Wilmington, North Carolina, last month, was the latest to say 'no' to off shore drilling.

Seismic testing and offshore drilling are part of an Obama Administration proposal. Governor Nikki Haley says if the federal government will lease to gas and oil companies, it will mean more jobs and investments for the state. Opponents of offshore drilling worry that spills could damage fisheries and the important coastal tourism industry. Supporters say drilling can be done safely and will mean jobs and new revenues.

Read more about the council’s stance leading up to Tuesday’s vote here:

Related story: Myrtle Beach council plans to vote on offshore drilling issue

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