CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Local leaders and community members are taking a stand against offshore drilling and seismic gun blasting with action instead of words. On Saturday morning, they joined hands to send a visual message to the leaders in Washington D.C. to show that oil isn’t welcome on Lowcountry beaches.
Offshore drilling and seismic gun blasting have been controversial for over a decade in coastal towns.
Many people say they’re afraid the oil would destroy the pristine beaches and ultimately destroy coastal economies.
Oceana hosted their 10th annual “Hand in Hand” event to show the country just how many people are against the oil drilling in the Atlantic. The organizers say the group started small but now their bigger voices are gaining traction.
“I think everyone sees that our economy is tourism and coastal based. We have too much to lose with the drilling threat,” said Samantha Siegle, an Oceana organizer.
Over 100 South Carolina leaders, local government officials, and community members stood along the Folly Beach waterline hand in hand to demonstrate that it’s time to fight with actions instead of words.
“That really translates to Washington D.C.,” Siegle says. “Our leaders can see a visual of how many people are against this. It’s powerful.”
Those speaking all have one common message.
They say if the Palmetto State doesn’t have beaches, then it has nothing. Officials say the coastline cities and towns depend on tourism to make a living, meaning if there are no beaches for tourists to visit, then the town’s economy will take a plunge.
“Who we are is where we are right now, protect it, love it,” said Mike Seekings, a Charleston city councilman. “It’s our way of life, it’s how we live. There’s no place along the coast for the infrastructure for offshore drilling, it doesn’t fit our life here.”
Congressmen Joe Cunningham ran his campaign on a platform of keeping drilling and blasting away from the Lowcountry and he says he intends to keep that promise.
“We have to stay adamant and let people know that during this time in office we don’t just say ‘No’ to offshore drilling but ‘Hell no to offshore drilling,’” Cunningham says.
Those participating say they plan to fight every day to make sure that generations to come can enjoy sunny days on clean beaches.
Cunningham says there is currently a bill to ban offshore drilling in the works and hopes that by next year, the ban will be in full effect.