Elected officials agree drilling detrimental to tourism

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This graph was provided by Peg Howell, founder of Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (SODA), based in Pawley's Island. The oil revenue data was taken from a 2013 report to the American Petroleum Institute. The tourism data was gathered from reports by

In my last article, I had the opportunity to report on my interview with U.S. Congressman Joe Cunningham about our environment and, in particular, seismic testing and offshore drilling.

Rep. Cunningham mentioned that along the South Carolina coast virtually all our elected officials are on record opposing either seismic testing or offshore drilling or both. Sure enough, in attempting to verify the Congressman's statement, I was able to find no South Carolina representatives who came out in favor of offshore drilling and-or seismic testing.

These included Rep. William G. "Bill" Herbkersman (S.C. House District 118), Weston Newton (S.C. House District 120), Jeff Bradley (S.C. House District 123), and Sen. Tom Davis (S.C. Senate District 46). When contacted, Rep. Newton said, "I do believe that this is an issue where most of the elected officials in the Lowcountry agree. Our natural environment is too important to put at risk."

In addition, I checked with Dr. Eric W. Montie of the Department of Natural Sciences at USCB, who indicated that he did not know "any scientists who would state that seismic testing is not harmful to marine life."

So, is the science settled? For me, as a concerned citizen who cares about nature, the answer is "yes." I agree with our elected leaders who, if for no other reason, are concerned about tourism, a mainstay of our economy. Granted, there are plenty of supporters of seismic testing and offshore drilling. However, few are scientists.

These days it is difficult for nature lovers to be upbeat. We face numerous forces that impinge on our environment. This gives me some hope and optimism.

In these polarizing times where people of different political leanings seem to find little common ground, the exception seems to be a genuine concern and desire to protect our natural beauty of the Lowcountry. We can disagree on any number of other things, but not this. If we can put aside other differences on this, who knows where we can find common ground on other issues.

What can you or I do? Support to those elected leaders who, in some cases, have gone out on a limb to oppose seismic testing and offshore drilling. Do the same with community leaders and community boards.

We might agree or differ on other matters, however where we can agree, let them know and show support.

John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek. john.a.riolo@gmail.com

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