Offshore drilling ban small victory for opponents; supporters worry about impact on industry


us house passes offshore drilling ban

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- Congressional lawmakers take a big step towards putting an end to offshore drilling. Here in South Carolina it’s an issue that’s been in the forefront for the past few years.

South Carolina lawmakers included a proviso in the 2019-2020 budget that bans onshore infrastructure for offshore drilling. Wednesday, members of the United States House passed legislation that strengthens the state’s position.

“‘The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act’ simply says you can’t drill in the Atlantic,” explained Alan Hancock with the Coastal Conservation League.

Mark Harmon, the director of the SC Petroleum Council, added, “These bills would jeopardize essentially all future oil and gas development in waters under federal jurisdiction.”

For opponents of the industry the measure is another step in the right direction.

Hancock continued, “At the state level we can say no we are not going to permit this refinery in Georgetown, but we don’t have the authority in the state to say no offshore drilling in the federal waters.”

Those in the industry fear the consequences of shutting down a multi-billion dollar industry.

“In the US it is roughly 10 million jobs directly impacted by the industry. We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars,” Harmon expressed.

The bill will now head to the United States Senate. President Donald Trump has already issued a threat to veto this bill if it makes it to his desk.

The proviso in the SC budget will expire at the end of the fiscal year; however, legislation has been passed to turn that proviso into law.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, this bill would jeopardize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has dished out more than $7 million to the state.

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