South Carolina Statehouse to hold a hearing over offshore drilling debate

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The debate over offshore drilling and seismic testing on the Atlantic seaboard heats up in the Lowcountry. 

On Wednesday, the South Carolina House Agriculture Environmental Affairs Subcommittee will hear three proposed bills. Two of the bills will discourage offshore oil and gas drilling, arguing that it risks 21,000 jobs in the fishing and tourism industry. However, one bill supports the potential economic benefits of the federal government’s plan.

The Trump Administration is pushing to open nearly all of the country’s offshore areas, with the exception of Florida. This is a reversal of policy from the Obama administration, which sought to protect federal waters from energy exploration. 

Supporters of the plan said offshore drilling would create nearly 300,000 new jobs over the next two decades, but Billy Keyserling, the Mayor of Beaufort, said he believes the risks are too great. 

Keyserling sighted a Department of Defense report revealing that the government dumped excess munitions into the ocean from 1917 to 1970. He told News 3 that this resulted in more than 17,000 tons of chemicals dumped into the Atlantic. 

He said, “if they are down there blindly blasting, there’s no telling what they will hit. We have identified 9 specific sites, sites specific to the South Carolina coast, but really as a coast, we’re in this together.”

The hearing will be held at the South Carolina Statehouse from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m. in Room 410 of the Blatt Building. There is no official vote listed on the agenda.

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