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A statement issued yesterday by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke exempts the State of Florida from the administration’s latest plans to allow new offshore drilling off America’s coasts. Zinke’s reasoning (underlining, mine): “President Trump has directed me to rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local and state voice. I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”
I say, thank you, Secretary Zinke, this is excellent reasoning for removing ALL coastal states from any plans for seismic testing and/or drilling.
South Carolina’s coastal communities’ leaders, business owners, and residents have already spoken: we do not want seismic testing, exploration or offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. It is not only understood that our coastal waters sustain the life of marine mammals – including the 500 remaining and endangered North Atlantic right whales, but also that they provide unique and prosperous economic opportunities for local and regional communities in both public and private sectors through heritage, coastal and nature tourism, commercial fishing and shrimping, and recreation.
The tourism economy is critically important to the residents of South Carolina and is a major source of revenue for the ENTIRE STATE. Statistics from a 2015 report prepared for the SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism by U.S. Travel Association illustrate that tourism spending in SC totaled $18.1 billion in 2013 (today around $20 Billion) and generated more than $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenues for SC. The tourism economy is said to create one in every 10 jobs in SC. The ability to simultaneously protect and safeguard our coastal waters and natural resources and benefit from them economically is a unique opportunity that cannot be understated. Conservation/coastal tourism is good business for our coastal communities, as well as for the entire state of South Carolina. It’s a win-win for SC residents and business owners, coastal resources, marine mammals, and other wildlife and habitats.
Coastal communities are proud stewards of our natural heritage and support environmental protections, sustainable business practices, and environmental education. Our local and statewide public and private sector organizations already work tirelessly to protect our coastal waters, marine life, wildlife, and resources. And, many South Carolinians spend countless hours volunteering with these agencies and organizations to further efforts to protect our coastal waters and resources and to educate our youth and visitors about our unique and fragile coastal ecology and natural resources.
Dear South Carolinians, although we have continued to voice our opposition to any and all consideration for allowing geophysical surveys in the Atlantic Ocean using seismic air guns; any other exploration activities that will undermine the health and safety of marine life and our coastal communities; the issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations to oil and gas exploration companies; and/or, new drilling off our coast, this may be the most important time to be heard by this administration on this issue. So let’s make sure our State Senators and Representatives know that we take seriously our inherited responsibility of stewardship to safeguard our oceans and marine life. That we know it’s up to all of us to ensure they remain healthy and intact and to ensure that we honor, protect, and hold sacred this legacy for future generations.
Dear Secretary Zinke, the diverse landscape that spans along South Carolina’s 187-mile coastline is home to some of the NATION’s most precious coastal and marine resources. Our coastal ecology is fragile and its health is critical to all life: human, plant, and animal, including all forms of marine life, shorebirds, and other wildlife. These ecosystems and resources provide extraordinary societal, ecological, and economic benefits to all coastal communities, as well as to the State of South Carolina. Please support local and statewide efforts to enhance the health of our oceans and natural resources by honoring and furthering protective measures – not lessening, ignoring, or eliminating them. EVERY coastal community is unique. Through interconnectedness, each depends on the other for the overall health of our waters and marine life. Please remove South Carolina from the Administration’s Draft Proposed Program to open South Carolina up to offshore oil and gas drilling.