Georgia’s coastal lawmakers unite to fight offshore drilling

A bipartisan group of Georgia’s coastal lawmakers are pushing for the state to pass legislation voicing their opposition to oil exploration.

Democratic state Rep. Carl Gilliard of Garden City has filed House Resolution 48, which would declare the state's opposition to offshore drilling and seismic testing.

He filed a similar resolution last session that went nowhere. Gilliard said he believes the timing is right this year for Georgia to take a stand, citing Gov. Brian Kemp's pledge to fight to keep offshore drilling away from the Georgia Coast.

Kemp’s predecessor, Nathan Deal, didn’t express support for or opposition to oil exploration.

Republican and Democratic House members from across the state have signed on to Gilliard’s resolution, saying a potential oil spill would harm the environment and tourism.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, said the coast is something that needs to be protected.

“This is a very unique and limited kind of resource. We don’t have a lot of coastline,” he said. “And it’s a point of connection for thousands of other people across this state.”

Environmentalists said while a resolution stating Georgia’s opposition to oil exploration would be a good start, they hope Kemp will take more aggressive steps to remove Georgia from the Trump Administration’s list of states where seismic testing can occur.

In South Carolina, the attorney general has joined a lawsuit filed by several cities and counties against the administration to block exploration off the coast there.