Language in resolutions against seismic airgun testing and offshore drilling, despite not having any force of law, nevertheless took nearly two whole sessions of the state legislature before it got a vote in either chamber. That changed Tuesday, the last day of the 2019 session, when the state House of Representatives passed House Resolution 48 by a vote of 125-36.
Groups such as the Georgia Conservancy and One Hundred Miles heralded the passing of the urging resolution.
“We’re very proud that our legislators chose such unified leadership in sending a message that there’s no place for drilling or seismic testing off of Georgia’s coast,” said Alice Keyes, vice president of coastal conservation for OHM.
Keyes said there were attempts to put weaker language in the resolution in subcommittee.
“There was a substitute resolution that was introduced that basically said nothing,” Keyes said. “It basically said we had to be careful when we do all sorts of drilling and exploration off our coast, but it did not state that the state of Georgia and the leadership of Georgia was opposed to drilling.”
The House Rules Committee put H.R. 48 on the supplemental Rules calendar for Friday, and it was expected to come to the floor, but state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, had it recommitted to Rules without an explanation. The Rules Committee, meeting Tuesday, put it on the calendar again.
State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, in presenting the bill, said to Rules Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, “Mr. Chairman, H.R. 48 is the most comprehensive anti-drilling and anti-seismic-testing resolution that we’ve had to date, and we’ve got the coastal delegation — those that are here — to sign that.”
State Rep. Carl Wayne Gilliard, D-Savannah — the lead sponsor of the resolution — introduced it on the House floor. He said it’s meant to show the intention of the coastal delegation to protect around 1.1 billion jobs involved in fisheries, tourism and related industries.
“We’re just standing united for Georgia’s coast, urging that there are no efforts of seismic testing or offshore drilling,” Gilliard said.
Echoing Gilliard, state Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, referred to the more than 200 municipalities that have passed resolutions against offshore energy exploration, including Brunswick, Hinesville, Kingsland, Richmond Hill, Savannah, St. Marys, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island, and inland cities of Porterdale and Atlanta.
State Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, asked during the vote, “Is it not true that Republicans ran on, ‘Drill, baby, drill,” which led to laughs in the chamber.
House Speaker David Ralston replied, “I think we’re asking that not apply off the Georgia coast.”
Over in the Senate, state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, presented S.R. 341, a non-binding resolution against the Green New Deal.
“I believe the Green New Deal should be renamed to the ‘Jobs Killing Bill,’ because that’s what the Green New Deal will do — kill jobs and cost a minimum of $4.6 trillion dollars or more to implement,” Beach said. “Now, we’re all for clean energy and we’re all for a clean environment, but this is overkill. In the last 10 years, we have spent more than $150 billion on the development of renewable energy sources and we saw less than a 10 percent use from green sources. There are 10 million jobs employed directly or indirectly in the oil and gas industry that could lose their jobs.”
Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said they spent barely any time in the Senate Rules Committee actually discussing the points raised in the Green New Deal proposal, much less the claims about it in Beach’s resolution and their accuracy.
“In the resolution itself, the one that Congress is considering, it says it has to create thousands of jobs — that it has to be a job-creator — not something that will cost jobs,” Henson said. “And I do not think that on the last day of the session, we should be taking up something like this that has not been vetted in the committee, that has real implications beyond our generation.”
The Senate passed S.R. 341 with a vote of 33-19.
That vote was followed by state Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, presenting S.R. 365, a resolution celebrating the first two years of President Donald Trump’s term.
“The people of my district asked me to bring this resolution, and I am very proud to be able to do so, just to be able to commend President Trump for all of his accomplishments as president, and keeping the promises which he has made to the American people,” Ligon said.
He continued, “For example, (Trump) promised to end the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, he’s done so. He promised to smash the ISIS caliphate, he’s done so. He promised to renegotiate NAFTA, he’s done so. He promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem — something that other presidents didn’t have courage to do. His support for our oil industry has allowed us to increase our oil production. We’ve now surpassed Saudi Arabia.”
Ligon added that Trump was also responsible for rolling back regulations that spurred economic growth, provided for the passage of the 2017 tax cut package, advanced religious liberty, taken pro-life positions, nominated “strong, constitutional justices,” and that his greatest accomplishment was getting the economy going.
Beach also spoke for the resolution, stating Trump would be known as a modern-day Eisenhower because of his leadership on infrastructure.
Henson, speaking against the resolution, said there were a lot of things he could talk about, from federal deficits to environmental policies and the like. The resolution also specifically mentions Glynn County.
“When we see this president ‘understands the values and will of the people of Glynn County,’ and you have friends who have called you from Glynn County and asked you to speak against this because they don’t feel it’s accurate, somebody’s got to get up and say whatever hope we have for this country and how strong we can be together, this resolution does not necessarily represent the feelings of all the members of this chamber,” Henson said.
S.R. 365 passed by a vote of 31-19.