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April 18, 2019

South Carolina advances measure to block offshore drilling

South Carolina’s Senate has advanced a measure that would block new offshore oil and gas infrastructure.

By Umar Ali

The South Carolina Senate has advanced a measure in the state’s budget that would block new offshore oil and gas infrastructure.

Republican state senator Chip Campsen introduced a budget proviso in a press conference on 17 April that would prohibit the state from approving any plans to “construct or otherwise use infrastructure used to facilitate the transportation of offshore oil into the land and waters of this State”.

This provision would prevent any plans to drill on South Carolina’s coastline up to 5km out from the coast, even if the state is included in the Interior’s leasing plans on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which are due to be released in coming weeks.

The Trump administration’s plans to pursue offshore drilling along the OCS have drawn criticism from coastal towns due to concerns that operations could damage the marine ecology in coastal areas and in turn disrupt tourism sectors.

Six states have passed amendments or legislation to restrict offshore drilling since 2018, and earlier in April Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a bill in opposition to offshore operations.

Campsen said in a statement: “I’ve spent time in the Gulf of Mexico. I know first-hand that offshore drilling would require massive industrialisation of our coastline.

“I’ve also spent a lifetime exploring – and a legislative career protecting – South Carolina’s magnificent coast. I know most of it like the back of my hand. There is no place where the onshore infrastructure needed to support offshore drilling is appropriate.”

“South Carolina is blessed with the most beautiful and historic coast in North America. Why would we subject our $23 billion tourism industry, lucrative coastal real estate markets, invaluable historic sites, world-class resorts, abundant fisheries, and extensive protected ecosystems to the industrialization and inevitable oil spills associated with offshore drilling? It makes no sense.”

The South Carolina Senate passed the budget containing the measure 40-4, with approval from the House of Representatives still needed to pass it into law.

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