The Trump administration is considering oil drilling off almost all of the country’s coasts. Georgia’s neighbors on the Atlantic Ocean, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, have all come out against the proposal.
Gov. Nathan Deal has been on the fence. He says he has concerns, but he hasn’t said “no.”
Hunter Hopkins, the director of the Georgia Petroleum Council, said he takes what Deal has said as good news for the oil industry.
“We were just pleased with that position, that he did not technically shut the door,” Hopkins said.
Companies should at least be allowed to look for oil and gas off Georgia’s coast, Hopkins said, to find out if there’s anything worth drilling for. If there is, he said, it could bring more jobs to Georgia, though any actual drilling could still be years off.
Congressman Buddy Carter, who represents the Georgia coast, has a similar stance as Deal, but other coastal lawmakers are opposed.
“For those of us that live on the coast, offshore drilling just shouldn’t be an option,” said Republican state Rep. Ron Stephens from Savannah.
He attended a small rally Wednesday morning outside the state Capitol. He said the Georgia coast, with its tourism and fishing, doesn’t need oil jobs, or the risk of an oil spill.
“All of these things that are never supposed to happen can happen,” he said. “I live in a pristine area on coastal Georgia that I’m very proud of, and I want to keep it that way.”
Scientists have said that even looking for oil and gas might harm marine animals.
There are bipartisan resolutions opposing offshore oil exploration and drilling in both the Georgia House and Senate.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was in town Wednesday collecting public comments and will continue to collect them online and via mail until March 9.