Local Ga lawmakers oppose offshore drilling

Local Ga lawmakers oppose offshore drilling
Coast off Tybee Island. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A bipartisan effort in Atlanta is trying to keep drills away from Georgia's coastline.

Lawmakers say with so many industries depending on the coast, they can’t take any chances.

Two area lawmakers will hold a news conference Wednesday in Atlanta about their measure.

Georgia’s coastline stretches from Tybee Island all the way down to Jekyll Island, but marine geologists say there are many different waterways in our state, like here along the Wilmington River. Lawmakers say one malfunction from offshore drilling could not only affect the ocean, it could mess with these areas as well.

Georgia’s coastline stretches about 100 miles. Marine geologists say anything within three miles of the coast is considered state waters. After the three-mile mark, it becomes federal waters.

House Resolution 48 would keep companies from seismic testing and offshore drilling within those first three miles.

State Representative Carl Gilliard and Don Hogan are the ones spearheading the bill. They say when it comes to offshore drilling, there are too many potential threats.

Gilliard says loud noises from the seismic testing and large machinery, like production wells, could disrupt our ecosystems. He also says a spill could impact the natural beauty of our coast, which many people come to visit while on vacation.

Lawmakers say coastal industries provide around 21,000 jobs for Georgians and makes up around $1.1 billion in domesticated products.

With so much depending on the coast, area lawmakers say it must not be harmed.

“A spill can do a whole lot. There are a lot of waterways that are being impacted by oil spills, so we can’t take the chance with our own waterways,” says Gilliard.

On Wednesday, Gilliard and Hogan are treating their colleagues to a seafood lunch so they can see what’s along our coast. They’ll then discuss the bill on protecting our waterways starting at 2 p.m. inside the State Capitol.

Gilliard says they’re already seeing a lot of lawmakers supporting this bill, and hope to have it on the governor’s desk soon.

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