In 2015, the Obama administration announced that it was considering opening up the Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling.
In both Republican and Democratic areas, residents, legislators, and organizations held town hall meetings, gathered in protest, and lobbied Washington. Meanwhile, the military formally and forcefully expressed concern that the proposed testing and drilling would gravely impact their offshore Florida, Georgia, and Virginia operations.
On February 2nd, 2015, the City of St. Marys signed a Proclamation opposing seismic airgun testing (the process by which companies search for oil) along our coast. Kingsland and Camden County soon followed suit. More than 320 municipalities and over 2,000 elected local, state and federal officials have signed similar resolutions/proclamations while fishing and tourism interests, including local chambers of commerce, tourism and restaurant associations, and an alliance representing over 42,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families from Florida to Maine, also oppose oil exploration off the East Coast.
This overwhelming bipartisan resistance from government and business leaders caused the Obama administration to reverse its course; effectively ending any potential oil exploration for at least five years. However, shortly after taking office, President Trump instructed his administration to review that decision and then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke chose to expose the Atlantic coast to irreparable and immeasurable harm once again.
It is now widely acknowledged that opening Georgia’s coast to seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling would be a grave mistake with irreversible consequences. That’s why, during the recent campaigns, voters found it to be a great relief that both gubernatorial candidates, Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, stood against offshore oil exploration and/or development. (As of this time, the East Coast governors stand united in their opposition.)
As now-Governor Kemp stated, “I support increasing our nation’s energy independence, but I do not support seismic testing or offshore drilling off the Georgia coast in order to do so. My priority as governor will be to protect our vibrant coastline, and ensure tourism and economic development and improve the lives of Georgians living in Brunswick and surrounding areas.” (The Brunswick News)
And “While recently re-elected coastal Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter supports seismic testing and offshore drilling, Georgia Governor-elect Brian Kemp doesn’t want it here. Governor-elect Brian Kemp opposes drilling off the coast of Georgia.” (Savannah Morning News)
Time and again, Gov. Kemp has insisted that he will fight for our Georgia coast and take a vocal and active role in striking down anything that threatens its well-being…and we applaud him for this.
But, as always, we are mindful that what is said during a campaign may not be what is realized once in office. We urge all who care for the integrity of our fragile coastal environment, our economic health, the safety of Cumberland Island, and the state of Georgia to take a moment to email or call Brian Kemp, thank him for his anti-oil stance, and encourage him to stay the course.