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South Carolina seeks to join action against U.S. government's offshore drilling, seismic testing plans

State AG

By Marian Johns | Jan 14, 2019

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The state of South Carolina has filed a motion in federal court to join a lawsuit filed by 16 of the state's cities, towns and the Small Business Chamber of Commerce in an effort to block offshore drilling and seismic testing off the South Carolina coast. 

In the motion, Attorney General Alan Wilson argues the federal government's plans to use seismic guns to look for potential oil and gas reserves off the state's coast will damage the area's yearly $13.5 billion tourism income. The attorney general also argues that the seismic testing would involve blasting acoustic pulses in the ocean every 10 seconds 24 hours a day with extremely loud noise that would be heard for thousands of kilometers. The lawsuit also alleges the testing would harm the state's marine life and fishing industries as well as violate federal laws.

“Once again the federal government seeks to intrude upon the sovereignty of the state of South Carolina,” Wilson said in a statement.  “Such action puts our state’s economy, tourism and beautiful natural resources at risk. We are bringing suit to protect the state’s economy and the rule of law.

“We understand the need to have a long-term, reliable energy supply. However, any comprehensive energy strategy must comply with the rule of law. While oil and gas exploration could bring in billions of dollars, doing it without adequate study and precautions could end up costing billions of dollars and cause irreversible damage to our economy and coast.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the seismic air gun testing, according to Wilson's office. 

“We are challenging the legality of the federal government authorizing testing and drilling off South Carolina’s coast," Wilson said. "The rule of law must be followed by any administration.”

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