Environmental groups celebrate after offshore drilling announcement

Environmental groups celebrate after offshore drilling announcement

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF News) - Some people describe the Obama administration's reversal of a plan to drill for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast as a huge victory.

Groups like SODA, which is short for "Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic," were thrilled that the work they've put in over the past year seemed to pay off.

"This was not one isolated pocket of wacko environmentalists or whatever they were calling us, but it was indeed people who live here, who have worked here, who have grown up here, who really care about this coast," said SODA Representative Peg Howell.

Local leaders in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach and Surfside Beach all voted to oppose offshore drilling in 2015.

"Council understood the point of view that offshore testing might create jobs and produce oil or natural gas, but balked at the risks, especially given the uncertainties," said city of Myrtle Beach Spokesman Mark Kruea.

It appears the federal government was listening.

"We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast. When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years," Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.

The fight isn't over yet though. The announcement only delays the issue until 2022. At that point, it may come up again.

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