CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council passed a resolution Tuesday night against offshore drilling and the use of seismic testing to survey for oil and natural gas off the coast.
With the approval of the resolution by a 7-to-5 vote, Charleston became the largest city in the state to go on record against offshore drilling.
Before the vote was cast, some council members wanted to defer the resolution until more information about the benefits of drilling could be discussed, and called the resolution too one-sided.
Opponents of offshore drilling worry spills could damage marine life and the tourism industry.
Mayor Joe Riley, who is strongly against offshore drilling, said,"We don't need it!"
"What would happen if there was a spill? What would happen to the environment?" Riley asked."People just don't want to visit, but they want to live here because of the quality of the environment."
Supporters say drilling can be done safely and will bring jobs.
Residents said many people who are opposing drilling were not properly informed about the issue.
"I'm disappointed with the fact that we were asked to pass judgment on an issue and provide judgment to a resolution or an opinion when we don't have all the facts on both sides," said Councilman Gary White."I recognize the issues regarding the environment, the challenges and the risks. But if we don't know what the potential positive impact could be to our economy and jobs, I just think we make a short sighted judgment on that."
Some environmentalists and city officials cherish tourism in Charleston. They believe a spill in South Carolina would turn away visitors and folks who want to live in the area.
"Why would you take on that kind of risk?" said Councilman Keith Waring.
"We saw an example of it just five years ago off the Gulf of Mexico. 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf. It was billions of dollars worth of damage to those local communities," said Hamilton David, an activist against offshore drilling.
Some disagree and believe drilling would bring in thousands of jobs and big bucks to South Carolina.
"If you look at what happens when you have offshore drilling, number one you have helicopters, then you have pilots, and you have restaurants," said Kay Clamp with South Carolina Petroleum Council. "The revenues that come into this from the Federal Government could be used about anyway you would like."
Other communities have approved a similar resolution including James Island, Folly Beach and the Isle of Palms. There's no word yet on when and even if offshore drilling will take place.