Georgia governor says he wants to study offshore drilling before taking stance

ATLANTA, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he wants the state to conduct a study on the pros and cons of drilling before he makes a formal request to the federal government.

This is the first time the governor has gone on the record when it comes to offshore drilling. He said he wants to take an educated stance and not a political one.

Georgia is home to miles and miles of coastline. President Donald Trump opened up that coastline to offshore drilling earlier this year. Governors along the eastern seaboard have taken strong stances for or against the plan. Deal plans to do a little research before he takes his.

"I think the more you can do it based on facts, rather than politics, the better your decision will be in the near term as well as in the long term,"  Deal said.

That study will begin soon. It's unclear how long it will take. The governor did acknowledge it would need to be done sooner rather than later.

"They recognize this is an issue that is out there right now. As soon as we can get the right documentation to support whatever position Georgia takes, I look forward to that," Deal said.

Trump's announcement to open up the coastlines lifted a ban imposed by President Barack Obama near the end of his term. Even a formal stance on the issue doesn't guarantee there won't be drilling off Georgia's coast.

"The primary decision really is that of the federal government. States can weigh in with their opinions and their requests. In most cases, I think those would be honored," the governor said. "I would prefer to have the facts, and I look forward to receiving the recommendations from our Department of Natural Resources. Their environmental divisions are very sensitive to these issues. I feel sure they'll do an in-depth study of what the pros and cons would be if we were to have offshore drilling off the coast of the state of Georgia."

A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the legislature to formally reject the drilling. All eyes will be on Deal's decision.

Governor Deal did not want to give a timeline on the study.

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