Staff Report for The Island Connection
On April 27, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford held a press conference at Shem Creek park in Mount Pleasant to announce his opposition to permits for seismic testing and offshore drilling in the waters off the coast of South Carolina. This announcement reversed his previous position on the matter.
Among those standing with Sanford at the event were Isle of Palm’s Mayor Dick Cronin, councilmembers Jimmy Ward, Jimmy Carroll and State Sen. Chip Campsen, who lives on Isle of Palms. Sullivan’s Island mayor Pat O’Neil and councilmembers Chauncey Clark and Jerry Kaynard also stood up with the Congressman.
“Those that join me today represent and understand the unique look and feel of South Carolina’s Lowcountry,” Sanford said, “Unfortunately; their views would not be represented in the process for testing or permitting for offshore drilling until it is far too late under the current proposal.”
“I’d give real credit to local leaders from all political perspectives like Senator Chip Campsen or Charleston Mayor Joe Riley for being outspoken and clear on this issue. Also thanks to the communities of Edisto Beach, Hilton Head, Port Royal, the City of Beaufort, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, James Island, James Island Public Service District, Rockville, and the City of Charleston for making evident their views on drilling off our coast.”
Under the seismic testing plan, South Carolina would not have full access to the testing data until after the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had signed leases with the energy companies.
“In the case of South Carolina, weighing the balance between large blocks of untouched coastal estuarine areas, and in other parts, an established tourism industry, against the potential benefits of drilling is not something that Washington officials are best positioned to do.” Sanford said. “In my view, it makes little sense to even conduct tests when the states and regions affected will have no say in the process of determining, especially when factoring potential impacts on the environment, tourism, along with other risks inherent in the process.
“So based on the public input I have received, including nine towns in the First Congressional District, and given that there would not be enough transparency for South Carolinians to have an indepth conversation about a path forward, I have asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management not to move forward with seismic testing off the coast of South Carolina.”
Since the event, the Town of Seabrook has also issued a resolution against offshore drilling and seismic testing. The towns of Kiawah Island and Mount Pleasant have not yet publicly considered such resolutions.