The Beaufort Gazette
October 3, 2016
By Stephen Fastenau
Some northern Beaufort County businesses and organizations have joined a new organization of merchants up and down the Atlantic coast opposing off-shore oil exploration.
The Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast formed during a meeting in North Myrtle Beach earlier this month. The group’s primary mission is to fight a plan to permit seismic testing in the Atlantic, a news release said.
More than 7,000 businesses from New Jersey to Georgia were represented at the kickoff meeting. The businesses are preparing a petition to send President Barack Obama with an Oct. 7 deadline.
Among the northern Beaufort County organizations to sign the petition are Compact II, Inc., the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Lowcountry Estuarium and Lowcountry Engineering Consultants.
“Our livelihood and our lives depend on our local fisheries, which scientists have informed us will be disrupted by the use of seismic guns in the Atlantic Ocean,” wrote Marquetta Goodwine, Queen Quet of Gullah/Geechee Nation and founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition.
Goodwine doesn’t see the need for oil exploration after offshore drilling was taken off the table, she wrote in signing the petition to Obama.
The Obama administration’s plan to drill for oil in the Atlantic was scrapped earlier this year. The plan was opposed by municipalities up and down the coast in an effort led by Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling.
But seismic testing, the process of shooting loud airgun blasts into the ocean floor in search of oil and gas deposits, is still on the table. Opponents have said the testing negatively affects marine life and would be detrimental to economies depending on tourism and recreation.
Seven federal permits are currently being reviewed for testing in the Atlantic. An environmental analysis on possible effects to the marine ecosystem is conducted before the permits can be issued by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency’s website says.
A permit already approved allows for aerial surveying.
“That’s still moving along; they can do so at any time if they wanted to,” S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Frank Knapp said of plans for seismic testing. “That was the urgency of having this business summit.”