Editorial: Marsh Madness

It’s time for Georgia’s governor to oppose offshore drilling

You’ll never get unanimity on an issue, especially one as multifaceted as offshore drilling.

 

But a consensus may just be forming against it in Georgia.

Since the Trump administration last month announced plans to allow oil exploration and drilling in federal waters, including off Georgia’s coast, Gov. Nathan Deal has been oddly reticent to oppose it, as most other coastal governors have done.

An aide told us Gov. Deal “has concerns about opening up Georgia’s pristine coastline and will convey those concerns to the congressional delegation.”

Similarly, Deal told reporters, “I doubt that the coastline of the state of Georgia would be a profitable place for offshore drilling. And I think if it is considered to be so, we need to have a lot of discussions about that.”

As we noted in our editorial Jan. 28 (“Just what is the drill?”), we appreciate the governor’s thoughtful deliberation – but in this case, it’s just not nearly enough. When you lean one way or another, you risk falling; some issues cry out for standing firm.

This is definitely one of them.

Thankfully, both citizens and lawmakers are mobilizing against offshore drilling.

Seven coastal Georgia cities have passed resolutions opposing it. There’s a petition you can sign at Change.org: Go to bit.ly/2H8jgpW.

And a group of bipartisan Georgia legislators has begun resolutions in both the House and Senate to oppose drilling off of Georgia’s coast.

“They argue it would risk fouling Georgia’s pristine salt marshes, threaten endangered right whales that give birth off Georgia and potentially devastate local economies,” the Associated Press reports.

Strangely – and perhaps politically – Florida Gov. Rick Scott was almost immediately granted a drilling waiver by the Trump administration. Other governors quickly requested exemptions too, including, thankfully, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

Where in the world is Georgia?

The longer this goes on, the more likely it is that Georgia could become isolated – and its coastal waters be the concentrated focus of drilling that’s banned elsewhere.

Is that really what we want?

In our Jan. 28 editorial, we recalled the awful anxiety of the summer-long Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana in 2010, a dragged-out disaster we called the 9-11 of the sea. The thought of oil spewing into Gulf waters and onto area beaches formed a black, gooey cloud in our psyches which, truth be known, has never left us and never will.

“I think we should, as a state, say that we don’t want this,” Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman said.

We agree wholeheartedly.

We wish our governor would too.

 

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