SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Congressman Buddy Carter who represents the 1st District in Georgia has written the Acting Secretary of the Interior asking that Georgia is excluded from offshore oil drilling.
It’s in response to a resolution passed this week by the Georgia Legislature. While Carter has been a long time supporter of offshore energy exploration he also says at this point the people have spoken.
“It’s important their voice be heard,” Carter told us. ” I have the honor and privilege of being the voice of the first Congressional District in Washington, D.C. and that’s the message I’m carrying and that’s the message I’m trying to relay to the Department of Interior.”
Carter says he still supports the idea offshore energy exploration but also says that “a number of resolutions have been passed by municipalities and county governments in Georgia as well as from the House of Representatives.”
Carter wrote to the Interior Department that “a resolution overwhelmingly passed the Georgia House of Representatives this week opposing offshore energy development off Georgia’s Coast.
He also wrote that “elected representatives of Georgia have voted and that the federal government should respect the people of Georgia to make this critical decision for themselves.”
He’s requesting that Georgia is excluded offshore energy plans until the concerns of the legislature are addressed.
It’s not clear how those concerns, which include a conviction that the marine environment would be damaged by seismic testing and drilling, would be resolved.
Carter told us one issue has been that concerns from the 1st District may not have been heard by the Administration which held a small number of public hearings last year when it announced it would open up the East Coast to offshore exploration.
“If you’ll remember, we had agencies come to get public input on this but they only came to Atlanta,” said Carter. “They never did come to Savannah and that’s where they need to be on the coast,
if not Savannah, then somewhere on the coast.”
Opponents of offshore drilling are hoping Carters’ letter will carry weight with the Trump Administration. Georgia Representative Carl Gilliard, a Democrat from Garden City was a sponsor of the House Resolution which prompted Carter’s letter. Gillard told us he is “elated about Congressman Carter’s letter and that he’s standing with Georgia’s coast.” Gilliard believes this will send a bid message about the importance of a clean coastal economy.
Hunter Hopkins from the Georgia Petroleum Institute told us the opposite in terms of what the letter might mean to the Interior Department. Hopkins says the GPI is still hoping to drill along the Atlantic and awaiting word from the Administration on what’s going to happen in terms of leases. Hopkins told us he is “disappointed about the House Resolution and about Carter’s letter to Interior.” Hopkins did indicate he understands that Carter is trying to represent the concerns expressed by those in the 1st District.
In terms of what his letter may mean Carter told us that he believes “the Trump Administration understands state sovereignty.”