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Offshore drilling: Pawleys group opposes oil and gas production

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Pawleys Island Civic Association directors followed up on a discussion at the group’s annual meeting by voting to oppose drilling for oil and natural gas off the shores of South Carolina.

Association president Linwood Altman said the board voted in favor of supporting opposition to oil and gas drilling and to oppose wind turbines within view of the island.

Civic association members broached the subject at their annual meeting on Labor Day weekend at Pawleys Island Chapel. When Frank Beattie asked for a show of hands from those who wanted the town to oppose offshore drilling, a majority responded.

Town Council members acted at their next meeting to oppose offshore drilling of oil but not natural gas. The proclamation noted that there is a difference of opinion on the drilling: “Proponents say it can be done safely, help reduce dependence on foreign energy and create U.S. jobs and revenue; opponents of offshore drilling worry that accidents could damage fisheries and the important coastal tourism industry.”

Mayor Bill Otis, who drafted the proclamation opposing oil drilling for town council, cited the concerns of property owners raised at the civic association’s annual meeting and a Senate bill that would allow facilities closer than the 50-mile limit proposed by the Department of Interior.

Like Otis, Council Members Mike Adams and Howard Ward didn’t oppose drilling 50 miles offshore but worried that drilling within 12 miles would endanger the island’s beaches. Council members were also opposed to locating wind turbines within sight of the shore.

Altman said the civic association directors had some discussion of oil and natural gas drilling with two members opposing the resolution. “In the end,” he said, “the board was in favor of opposing oil and gas. We didn’t go along with the town viewpoint.”

Peg Howell, a leader of the local grass-roots movement opposed to offshore drilling and seismic testing Stop Oil Drilling in the Atlantic, said she was pleased that another group has stepped up and publicly expressed their disapproval of both oil and gas drilling, realizing the Pawleys creekside is as vulnerable as the beach to oil spills. “I think it’s excellent the civic association doubled back to make sure the resolution is complete in reflecting the wishes of the people on the island,” she said.

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