Sun, sand, surf, and - oil rigs?
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:12:36 GMT —
The Obama administration has taken a step toward allowing oil rigs off South Carolina's coast.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the use of sonic air cannons to search for oil off the coast. The cannons bounce sound waves off the ocean floor to detect oil and gas deposits.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said it supports the testing.
The chamber put out a statement that calls the testing: "...a sensible approach to offshore energy development will create jobs and enhance our economy without threatening tourism."
But some tourists said they don't want to see oil rigs off Myrtle Beach's coast.
"Totally out of place," said Van Cain of Fayetteville, NC. "You could not imagine what it is now to capture that sight that we have right at this moment."
"The eco-system, the everything that's in the ocean, disrupting that just to do that with oil, it needs to be left alone," said Sheila Powers of Jellico, TN.
A spokesperson for the Coastal Conservation League says the sonic testing could lead to the deaths of 200,000 whales and dolphins and says it's not worth the risk.
"Do we want the infrastructure that having gas and oil rigs is going to require on our shores and do we want to take the risk of another BP-like spill on South Carolina beaches?" asked Nancy Cave, CCL's North Coast director.
Cave said the CCL and other environmental groups are considering a lawsuit against the government to stop the testing.
But the head of a South Carolina gas and oil trade group says any oil rigs would be so far offshore, they wouldn't impact tourism.
"They would drill, it would have to be 20 or more miles off the coast and you would not be able to see the rigs. But the truth is, they think it would be more like 50 miles out," said Kay Clamp, executive director of the South Carolina Petroleum Council.
The American Petroleum Institute says the U.S. could see up to $23 billion in economic growth from offshore oil and gas development.