Georgia’s coastal congressman, Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), continues his demand to move the public meeting about offshore drilling from Atlanta to Coastal Georgia.
Carter met with the Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Walter Cruickshank Wednesday at Carter’s request to discuss the possibility of offshore energy exploration off the coast of Georgia.
Currently, the meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28th from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. and the location is at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel One Hartsfield Centre Parkway in Atlanta – 250 plus miles away from coastal residents and business owners.
Carter raised critical issues for Coastal Georgia with the Acting Director, including the need for a sufficient buffer zone offshore and the need to protect Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, marine life and habitats such as the right whales and Gray’s Reef, and Coastal Georgia’s fishing and tourism industries. The implementation of important new safety measures and regulations by the government and private industry was also discussed.
Last week, Governor Nathan Deal expressed concerns about how the offshore drilling would impact coastal communities, tourism, and overall economic impact from offshore drilling linked to the Trump Administration’s ambitious energy plan.
Congressman Carter’s office stated they are still working with the BOEM’s director to have the public meeting in coastal Georgia.
“I requested a meeting with the Acting Director of BOEM because he needs to hear straight from the First District,” said Carter. “We had a productive conversation and I was able to make sure the bureau knows that any moves made off our coast must be in the best interest of our coastline, citizens, and jobs. I also again made my request very clear that we need a public meeting about the possibility of offshore energy exploration on the coast. I will continue this conversation with the Acting Director throughout this process.”
– Congressman Buddy Carter.
Carter sent his initial request to BOEM on January 5th emphasizing the need for a public meeting on Georgia’s coast as well as reviewing the Georgia Department of Natural Resources comments on the sound testing impact on the region. The sound testing is known to affect marine life that use their own natural sonar to navigate and migrate through Georgia’s coastal waters.
Surrounding state Governors in South Carolina and Florida bristle at the chance of oil drilling off of their shores.
South Carolina Governor sent a letter to the Trump Administration stating that “our coastline is not an industrial working coastline as in some other states. It is just the opposite. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that South Carolina sits in the middle of ‘Hurricane Alley,’ and we are regularly in the path of hurricanes, tropical storms” and other weather events,” McMaster wrote.
Florida’s Governor stated that he wants no offshore drilling off the coast of Florida and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke fully exempted the entire state. On Thursday, Florida’s U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson (D) introduced legislation that would permanently ban offshore drilling off Florida’s coast. Many other coastal legislators in D.C. are filing bills to protect their coasts and waterways.
The environmental community largely opposes the plan, as they have long stood against oil drilling for its effects on the environment, the scenery of the coasts and fishing life. The BOEM document includes comments from environmental groups in Georgia. The 100 Miles and the Georgia Conservancy Groups feel the natural and historical assets found on the coast of Georgia far outweigh the potential benefits from offshore drilling.
Pro-business groups such as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce feel that the offshore drilling program could result in thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to Georgia’s economy further long-term economic and energy security.
In the 308-page BOEM document, Georgia’s officials, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, supports the offshore drilling program as long as relevant environmental and societal issues are fully addressed. Furthermore, given the current need for greater energy security in the United States, Georgia supports an effective state and Federal partnership that explores options for new energy resources.
Currently, there are no legislative attempts from Georgia’s delegation to exclude Georgia from offshore drilling explorations.