During a February 13 press conference in Columbia, S.C., organized by Oceana, the world’s largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley joined local and state legislators and citizens from Greenville to Charleston in speaking out against offshore drilling.
In her speech Mayor Hatley said that she opposes seismic air gun testing and oil and gas exploration and drilling in the ocean off the coast of North Myrtle Beach and South Carolina because the slight and speculative benefit that would likely accrue to the global energy market from such activity is not worth the potential for a single incident that could cripple local and statewide economies, and ruin natural resources.
Mayor Hatley said domestic travelers spend more than $12 billion in South Carolina each year, with a total annual economic impact of about $20 billion. Tourism sustains more than 116,000 jobs statewide, and generates more than $485 million in state and local taxes. Visitor spending on the Grand Strand (Horry and Georgetown Counties combined) totals more than $7 billion annually and supports more than 83,000 jobs, an impressive 80% of which are year-round. More than 17 million people visit the grand strand annually, representing 37% of tourism’s statewide economic impact.
“The City of North Myrtle Beach works hard to protect and preserve its 9 miles of beautiful beaches and our other natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations of residents and visitors,” Mayor Hatley said. “Preserving these natural attributes is essential to our healthy economy and to our quality of life.”
Following her speech, Mayor Hatley joined other state and local legislators, including South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford, State Representative Greg Duckworth, and State Senator Luke Rankin, at a rally at the State Capitol building in opposition to offshore drilling.
The North Myrtle Beach City Council has passed a resolution against offshore drilling and the Council recently resolved to join a proposed lawsuit with other South Carolina coastal communities initiated by the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) opposing seismic air gun testing and oil and gas exploration and drilling off the North Myrtle Beach/South Carolina Coast.