CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS/WCSC) - The coast has always been a special place for Robert Barber.
Barber is the owner of Bowens Island Restaurant near Folly Beach. He said like many business owners in the area, he’s opposed to offshore drilling or seismic testing in the Palmetto State.
“We don’t need oil on our beaches. Or in our creeks where the little critters are,” Barber said.
He said if something were to go wrong, it could be devastating for everyone in the state.
“Anybody who has spent some time in the Lowcountry would have serious reservations and enthusiastic opposition to this,” he said.
Barber said it’s crucial to protect nearby waterways.
“These estuaries are where shrimp, oysters, and other sea creatures begin their lives,” he said. His restaurant relies heavily on local seafood.
Lawmakers have made their stand against offshore drilling and seismic testing in South Carolina. A proviso was added to this upcoming year’s budget that prohibits the issuance of state and local permits for infrastructure and other activities related to offshore drilling and seismic testing. This is the first state or federal law protecting South Carolina’s coast from offshore drilling and seismic testing in the wake of federal efforts to open the coast to offshore drilling, lawmakers say.
This proviso lasts for one year and can be renewed in the next budget plan
“I can’t imagine a South Carolina with offshore drilling,” Rep. JA Moore (D-Berkeley) said.
Moore grew up near the coast and works in the hospitality business. He said you can expect to see a push for a permanent ban when lawmakers get back together in January.
“There’s no economic impact worth greater than that life long opportunity to enjoy our beaches. It’s simple to me,” Moore said.
Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson have voiced their opposition to offshore drilling as well.
According to Explore Offshore, a project by the American Petroleum Institute, offshore drilling would create 34,000 jobs and rake in billions of dollars for the state.
Barber said it’s not worth the risk.
“We already have a lot of money coming to South Carolina because of tourism, I don’t think it’s worth the gamble,” he said.