Trump administration sidelines plan to expand offshore drilling; local leaders react

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – The Trump administration is shelving plans to open virtually all federal waters to offshore drilling, reports say.

New Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told The Wall Street Journal plans have been sidelined indefinitely as they grapple with a recent court ruling. A federal judge denied the administration’s attempt to overturn an Obama era ban on drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster calls it “winning.”

“South Carolinians can remain confident that we will continue our efforts to protect our pristine coastline and invaluable tourism industry from the destructive threats of seismic testing and offshore drilling,” he added in a statement.

Lowcountry Congressman Joe Cunningham welcomed the news but said the fight is far from over. He wants legislation to permanently ban offshore oil and gas drilling.

His statement to News 3 reads, in part:

This decision is the result of constant pressure from coastal communities, environmental groups, and elected officials who made it abundantly clear that offshore oil and gas drilling is dangerous, unwanted, and a threat to our economy and way of life. I’m glad to see the Administration listened…Congress must pass my bipartisan legislation, HR 1941: The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, as soon as possible.

Georgia’s District 1 Congressman Buddy Carter said the decision should give the Interior Department time to address concerns of the legislature and the people of his district. Carter’s statement in part reads:

While I remain an ardent supporter of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will deliver safe, affordable and reliable energy to our citizens as well as protect our national security through energy independence, this is welcome news for the citizens of the First Congressional District who have expressed concern about offshore energy exploration. In my recent letter to the interior secretary requesting that Georgia be exempted from offshore energy exploration, I requested that the concerns of the Georgia State Legislature be addressed.

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