Pre-filed bill aims to ban offshore drilling for good from S.C. coast

Updated: Dec. 13, 2019 at 11:29 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Offshore drilling has become a big topic on the state, local and national levels, and one South Carolina state senator has taken a step to keep offshore drilling far away from our coastline.

South Carolina state Sen. Chip Campsen (R) said after working in the Gulf of Mexico for many years, he believes people don’t understand the reality of having offshore drilling along our coast and what this could do to the communities near the beach.

“That if you’re going to have offshore drilling, your coast is going to be industrialized. There is a massive amount of onshore infrastructure that is needed to support offshore drilling,” Campsen said.

Campsen believes this type of growth would harm the $17 million tourism industry, which is the main source of revenue for the coastal areas of the state.

“Refineries and tank farms and oil spills don’t go well with the vacationers on the Grand Strand beaches. Louisiana, Texas, and parts of Alabama decided we’re going to dig for oil. They don’t have the tourism, the coastal tourism, we have, they don’t have the coastal real estate values we have because that oil industry affects all of that," Campsen said.

Earlier this year, a provision was passed by the state Senate, preventing the Department of Health and Environmental Control or local government entities to use funds to approve licenses or permits associated with offshore drilling or for seismic testing.

This bill was passed on a year-to-year basis.

Camden has now pre-filed a bill that would permanently ban and stop any work related to offshore drilling, refineries, pipelines, and or anything related to the industry from coming to the South Carolina shore. Even if the Trump administration goes ahead with approving permits for offshore drilling and seismic testing.

The bill will ban cities, counties, or the state from issuing permits for any structures such as docks, ports, buildings that could be related to industrialization from offshore drilling.

“We don’t want offshore drilling, we want to protect the beauty of our coastline,” said Lorraine Chow, a member of Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic, or SODA.

Chow agreed with Camden when he said this is an issue that affects you no matter what side of the political table you sit on.

“We are fighting seismic blasting and this is something that unites a lot of us even in a sometimes very divided country,” Chow said.

Campsen said 28 of his fellow senators have co-signed the bill and he expects more will over the coming weeks. This bill will be considered during the 2020 legislative session.

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