Offshore drilling has been a big topic of discussion both nationally and here in the state. In fact, the governor has shown his support for measures that could prevent drilling off of South Carolina’s coast.
It’s the first law passed at the state or federal level of its kind to protect the South Carolina shore.
The South Carolina Senate voted 40 to 4 in favor of a budget proviso that prohibits the state from issuing permits that would allow offshore drilling equipment and activity on South Carolina beaches.
Senator Chip Campsen has helped spearhead movements in the State House to spark this change. The lawmaker from Charleston explained how this law will help the state during a time of indecisiveness at the federal level when it comes to coastal protections.
Senator Campsen said, “We can’t prohibit an oil-rig 60 miles offshore because those are federal waters. We can prohibit activity on land and within 3 miles of our jurisdiction off the coast.”
The law is key in protecting one of South Carolina’s biggest money-making industries.
The Coastal Conservation League has been at every public hearing and committee meeting concerning offshore drilling and possible prohibitions or allowance in the state. Alan Hancock with the league broke down why this move by local government is so crucial.
“Coastal tourism generates $22 billion a year to South Carolina, tens of thousands of jobs and all of that would be under threat if there was the industrialization of our coasts,” explained Hancock.
Senator Campsen added other areas that might be impacted if offshore drilling was to take place in South Carolina.
“We’re going to jeopardize existing fisheries, real estate market home values, quality of life and a coast where we’ve managed protect a third of it.”
The budget proviso is only for the 2019-2020 fiscal year; however, those against offshore drilling are hoping a permanent law is enacted next year.
A study by the American Petroleum Institute shows that offshore drilling could generate $1.6 billion from property and income taxes over a 20-year period.