open house

U.S. Rep Buddy Carter, R-1, center,talks with constituents during an open house at Carter’s office on Newcastle Street in January. While many coastal cities have come out against offshore oil exploration and drilling off the Georgia coast, Carter continues to support offshore drilling.

ST. MARYS — Communities from St. Marys and Brunswick to Tybee Island and Savannah have signed resolutions opposing offshore oil exploration and drilling off the Georgia coast.

Now, some are questioning why U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, continues to support oil exploration and drilling when so many municipalities are opposed to the initiative.

“I have taken these resolutions into consideration,” he said in an interview Thursday. “This could create more than 5,000 jobs in Georgia and raise over $700 million for the state budget by 2035 with revenue sharing in place. This could create good paying, long lasting jobs for our area and have ripple effects as more people come to work in the new industry.”

Alice Keyes, associate director of the Brunswick-based environmental group One Hundred Miles, said her organization has contacted Carter numerous times to express their concerns and to remind him of the growing number of municipalities voicing opposition to oil exploration off the coast.

The city of Woodbine will soon consider signing a resolution opposing the issue, and Hinesville, Richmond Hill and Liberty County are also considering signing similar resolutions.

“There are a lot of communities he represents that have signed resolutions,” Keyes said. “More are considering this every month. I hope he hears the voices of the people on the Georgia coast.”

Carter said he continues to listen to all opinions as he researches the issue.

“Gulf Coast communities are home to a $20 billion tourism industry and Louisiana is home to the most productive commercial fisheries outside of Alaska, supplying one-third of the fish caught in the continental U.S.,” he said. “At the same time, they are the source of almost a quarter of our domestically produced oil and natural gas.”

Recent studies have shown that oil and gas platforms create good habitats for fish and there is no research that fish caught near the platforms have more pollutants on them than any other fish caught in natural habitats, he said.

“Additionally, tourists will not be able to see the oil rigs from our beautiful beaches,” he said. “Currently, drilling will not occur within 50 miles of the shoreline and the curvature of the earth only allows for sight of any object within 15 miles.”

Carter said some opponents say seismic testing to find potential oil reserves will harm marine life.

“Environmental extremists are putting out outrageous claims that have been debunked by the Obama administration, which is no friend to energy,” he said. “The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has said it will not issue air gun seismic survey permits unless applicants have obtained authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which ensures no adverse effect on marine mammals.”

Reporter Gordon Jackson writes about Camden County and other local topics. Contact him at gjackson@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 464-7655.

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Testimony on the resolution was not put online — requiring coastal residents to make the long trek to be in person for two subcommittee hearings — but when put before a full House committee, a resolution opposing seismic airgun testing and oil and gas drilling passed early Thursday morning.