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Public hearing on offshore drilling set for Tuesday in Savannah
Only local hearing on proposals
gas pump

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold a public meeting Tuesday on proposed offshore drilling along the Georgia coast.

Set for 3-7 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah, the meeting will be open house in format and provide information stations so the public can talk one-on-one with bureau staff, according to its website. The meeting in Savannah is the last of nine to be held in the Atlantic region and one of 23 on President Barack Obama’s five-year energy plan, which seeks to allow oil companies to lease portions of the U.S. outer continental shelf on both coasts.

If approved, the latest five-year program would allow one lease to be sold within 50 miles of the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia in 2021, according to the bureau’s website.

That timeline “allows for consideration of a targeted area with significant resource potential, while limiting potential impacts to the environment and other uses of the ocean,” the website says. “Scheduling the potential sale late in the Program allows time for additional analyses, including the collection of additional seismic and environmental information.”

Environmental groups have already lined up against the project, which would also open up areas off the Alaska coast and in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration.

Groups opposed to drilling in the Atlantic include the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of more than 20 groups ranging from One Hundred Miles and Center for a Sustainable Coast in Georgia to Virginia Conservation Network and Friends of the Earth, according to the bureau’s, or draft proposed program.

The draft, which is available online, lists a long list of supporters, including oil industry groups and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

According to the document, nearly half a million people have also weighed in on the project, and nearly all “were submitted as part of form letter campaigns.”

More than half, or 285,300, were generally opposed to the plan, while slightly fewer support opening up more areas to drilling.

In January, more than 70 percent of those who voted in a Bryan County News poll supported offshore drilling in the Atlantic.




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