The city of Richmond Hill is the latest municipality to make its sentiments known regarding seismic testing and oil drilling off of Georgia’s coast.
The city council last week voted unanimously in favor of a resolution opposing the activities, citing tourism, aquatic life and national security as the reasons for doing so.
“Georgia’s coast supports a significant fishing and tourism industry, which benefits the state economy in terms of 21,000 jobs and over $1.1 billion of Georgia’s GDP,” the resolution read in part.
It goes on to say that off-shore drilling would require infrastructure such as pipelines and refineries that “may compromise the character of our coastal landscapes,” and that “scientific studies have found seismic testing to harm marine fisheries and marine mammals that are important to Georgia’s coastal communities.”
The resolution also said testing and drilling activities “may interfere with critical military preparedness, training and testing activities taking place off the coast of Georgia,” specifically at King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base.
The issue was first raised by residents in February who urged the council to pass such a resolution.
“Seismic testing threatens the local ecosystem and could negatively impact the critically endangered right whale population,” Corey Barnes told the council. “The presence of oil drilling off the coast introduces massive risk that rekindles memories of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that led to 11 deaths and catastrophic damage to the Gulf Coast. The last thing coastal Georgians want to see is thick, poisonous oil lapping up to the pristine sand.”
Cathy Butler Gregory, a local real estate agent, agreed.
“Our marshes is where marine life begins,” she told the council. “We’ve enjoyed these estuaries for years and should protect them for future generations.”
Gregory said that as Coastal Georgia grows, the impact on the environment increases.
“If you look at the tidal creeks, you can see it,” she said. “There are more boats on the water and more gas and oil coming from those boats.”
Richmond Hill joins more than 140 communities that have already passed similar resolutions, including Hinesville, Savannah, Tybee Island, Brunswick, St. Marys and Kingsland.
Barnes had previously made a similar presentation to the Bryan County Board of Commissioners asking for a similar resolution.