Editor: There have recently been some interesting events involving the approaching invasion of our coast by seismic testers and oil well drillers.
First and foremost, the entire state of Florida has been exempted by the Trump Administration from the threat of seismic testing and subsequent drilling for oil!
Florida Gov. Rick Scott requested it. His request had nothing to do with the potential for ecological and financial disaster that would accompany seismic testing and drilling for oil along the coast. The outrage expressed by a huge percentage of Florida residents prompted Scott to request exemption.
Scott wants to run for the Senate. He can’t afford to lose half the state’s votes. Florida was a marginal victory for Trump. Trump can’t afford to lose the state. It’s all about politics and money.
So I guess Georgia’s coast is not as valuable as Florida’s? I haven’t heard a peep out of our Governor or any of our state or U.S. representatives.
I understand since we only have 100 miles of linear coastline and Florida has 1,350 miles there could be a numerical difference there in economic measures. Georgia actually has a higher percentage of shoreline than Washington state, Oregon and California — combined due our rivers, creeks and islands.
I can assure you that our coast is precious to Georgians and happens to be a gold mine of exceptional ecological uniqueness in the world and is greatly valued by the marine science community. Let me tell you what Florida does not have, over 750,000 square acres of estuary in Georgia and lower South Carolina. It is literally a birthing ground for a huge percentage of the marine life in the Atlantic Ocean.The potential for disaster is more prevalent off the Georgia Coast than any other part of the Atlantic or Gulf due to, among other things, our 8,000-square-mile shallow continental shelf, our comparatively extreme tides and the mighty Gulf Stream stirring up the water like a washing machine and in doing so establishing the beginning of the food chain in the Atlantic. Georgia is in the apex of the Atlantic Bight.
Obviously the most compelling argument to bring Georgia’s political representation around to joining the rest of the entire East Coast in its objection to the exploration is to demonstrate a threat to their political careers through massive public outrage.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, said, "We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value of our wonderful coastline." North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper: "Unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities." The states of Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, etc. all the way up to Massachusetts are objecting to the concept of doing seismic testing and subsequently drilling for oil.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zenke’s office stated that all the states have different concerns, which they intend to address. No, they do not have different concerns. That is political speak for "We have to find out what it will take to get them on board". Coastal states all have the same concerns: It’s about destroying the ecology and the economy of their coastlines with the inevitable oil well spill.
A man from South Carolina stated that natural gas would be the product found so there was no chance of oil spills. So he is admitting that if oil is involved there is the very real potential for spills! Does he really think if oil is found they will not drill for it?
Rep. Buddy Carter has recently announced that he is very concerned. That would be about the resistance to the action, not the disasterous ecological possibilities, and is going to arrange a meeting between the citizens of the coast and the Bureau of Energy Management. As per the announcement from his office, the purpose of the meeting was to insure that BOEM was listening to Georgians and that they use facts, data and expertise in determining the path forward.
Let us dissect that premise. The BOEM is a government bureaucracy that marches to the tune of their political bosses. They don’t vote. I don’t see them having any influence on the present administration.
Where are these facts and data supposed to come from? Outraged citizens? I don’t think so. We have all been to those kind of meetings where emotion prevails, are generally ignored and do not provide the scientific facts this argument needs.
I have expressed my concerns to Mr. Carter that an arranged meeting between coastal citizens and the BOEM is not much more than smoke and mirrors. I suggested that Carter might arrange for meetings between the BOEM and a group of non-government marine scientists, Oceana and UGA scientists on Skidaway and perhaps folks from the Southern Environmental Law Center with, of course, the public in attendance.
That way the BOEM and Mr. Carter would get the facts and a more productive meeting as opposed to a group of irate citizens bouncing their complaints off a bureaucracy that, at best, would be placating in their reaction to those complaints.
I had a BOEM representative tell me two years ago that the marine life would see the ship doing seismic testing and swim out of the way! I’m not sure he was that ignorant of the facts or was just being condescending.
Maybe even our Senators Perdue and Isakson and perhaps the secretary of the Georgia DNR might be interested in soliciting scientific facts about the perilous idea of drilling for oil off the Georgia coast as opposed to political rhetoric based on a false narrative of energy independence which is nothing more than a marketing term dreamed up by Big Oil.
I understand that all these folks have a lot on their plate and are possibly thinking that this issue is in the future, but that is not true. A bill has already left committee and has gone to the house for a vote. Once this juggernaut gets rolling it will be impossible to stop. All citizens of Georgia should register their concerns with their elected officials via hard mail, email and phone calls. You should expect nothing more than the usual form letter in response but it is volume that counts because it is votes that they are counting. We want what Florida got. Exemptions for Georgia and the entire Atlantic coast.