Myrtle Beach City Council members are revisiting a resolution to oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing Tuesday.
The decision to take a stance comes nearly five months after City Council members were expected in March to make a decision on whether the city would support or oppose offshore drilling along the coast of South Carolina – during a comment period by the federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management.
Councilman Wayne Gray brought the issue up at the July 28 meeting, saying it was time that the city discuss and take a position on seismic testing.
“I felt there still was an opportunity to take a stand,” Gray said Sunday. “I originally suggested holding a forum, but some other council members said they were ready to vote on a resolution. ... I still do believe there could be some type of educational forum held.”
Myrtle Beach City Council meets 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center.
Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means, Councilman Michael Chestnut and Mayor John Rhodes – in addition to Gray – all said they opposed seismic testing and offshore drilling at the July 28 meeting. Councilman Randal Wallace said he fully supported it and wanted the opportunity to hold a public forum on the topic.
“Is a forum going to change your mind?” Means asked Wallace, to which he said no. “It’s not going to change mine either. I’m ready to vote on it.”
Wallace said he supports exploration because if there is oil off the S.C. coast, it would bring jobs to the state.
17 S.C. cities, towns and counties have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and/or seismic testing
“It’s a huge opportunity over the next 20 to 30 years – if it’s there,” he said Sunday. “And that’s what this is all about right now, seeing if it’s there. ... It could be a huge economic opportunity, I think, to bring high-paying jobs to this region and this state that aren’t here now.”
But Rhodes has said protecting the area’s current industry is the most important thing.
“The only resource I'm worried about is tourism,” he said last month.
Atlantic Beach, the only Grand Strand government to oppose testing, passed its resolution last week
The Coastal Alliance members in April said they think it’s best to take a wait-and-see approach instead of immediately taking a position against seismic testing and offshore drilling. The Coastal Alliance is a group that represents Horry County and cities along the Grand Strand.
Atlantic Beach last week passed a resolution opposing offshore exploration or development, as have 16 other government bodies in South Carolina – including Charleston and Georgetown, according to Oceana, an environmental group opposing Atlantic drilling.
Gov. Nikki Haley supports offshore drilling and is a member of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, which has a mission statement that says it works to “influence a sensible path forward for the development of America’s offshore energy resources.”
Drilling proponents say it can help reduce dependence on foreign energy and create jobs and revenue.
Opponents of offshore drilling worry that spills could damage fisheries and the important coastal tourism industry. Supporters say drilling can be done safely and will mean jobs and new revenues.