Offshore drilling could impact Georgia environment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Offshore drilling could impact Georgia environment

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By Brian Entin - email
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Minerals Management Service held a public forum on Friday to allow citizen input into the possibility of exploring for oil and gas off of the Georgia shore.

President Obama opened up the East Coast for exploratory testing. The testing uses sound waves that bounce to the ocean floor and indicate whether oil is present. Environmentalists are concerned this testing will impact marine life. "This testing by itself can have a dramatic impact on the fisheries and the amount of the catch we get during the test and after the test. Marine mammals are also impacted," attorney Bill Sapp with the Southern Environmental Law Center said.

Richard Cobb is the executive director of the Georgia Petroleum Council. He says testing will have a minimal impact on the environment and tourism. "We would be far enough out you wouldn't see it. We also have a very good track record of solving environmental problems," Cobb said.

Activist Matt Dundas with the Oceana Organization has been attending every public meeting held by the Minerals Management Service along the East Coast. "This testing can lead to the stranding of marine mammals. It can lead to disorientation of wildlife. It's something that is not worth taking steps towards," Dundas said.

Cobb says the exploration is worth it. But he questions whether much oil is even off the coast of Georgia. "It would be wonderful if there was a lot of oil of off Georgia's shore. I'm going to be surprised if there is. If it is there we could make it economically available to Georgia consumers in an environmentally safe way," Cobb said.

Cobb says the testing could be up to five years away.

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