HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - President Joe Biden has already signed a few environmental policies some organizations and researchers along the Grand Strand say could impact the Carolinas.
Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic said what Biden has already done in his first few days in office is a clear message more policy concerning the climate crisis and the environment is on its way.
“What we’re also optimistic about is that President Biden understands the contentedness of this issue of climate change and offshore drilling. Whether we have offshore drilling or not, our coast is still at risk,” said SODA spokesperson Peg Howell.
She said President Biden’s executive actions signed this past week, is welcomed news to conservationists.
“Ban all new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, and of course our coast is public waters,” said Howell.
Howell said SODA’s goal is to permanently ban all offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. She thinks Biden’s new 60-day suspension of new oil and gas permits is just a step towards this.
While the economic impacts of offshore drilling are a concern for some, SODA said the tourism industry that comes with a pristine coast is much more lucrative.
Coastal Carolina University researcher Tom Mullikan said on top of this, Biden’s action to halt development of the Keystone Pipeline and rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement showed a broader effort of environmental policy in general. He said down the line, continued actions like these could bring change to our coast.
“I think it very well could be a benefit to South Carolina,” said Mullikan.
Mullikan explained that for South Carolinians, the biggest issues are coastal erosion, nuisance flooding from seawater rise, and more rain causing flooding from extreme weather patterns.
He said it took a while to get to where we are now, and change won’t happen overnight, but he thinks the actions coming out of the White House mean we could begin to see local impacts. Some of those including placing a greater emphasis on the climate crisis, as well as receiving grant money to fight these issues in the future.
However, what Biden’s put forward so far is only coming out of the executive branch. Both Mullikan and Howell said legislation is a more long-term solution.
“If we want major initiatives they need to be introduced and passed through Congress,” said Mullikan.