Paulita Bennett-Martin is Georgia Campaign Organizer for Oceana. Oceana is a member of Don't Drill GA, a coalition of organizations across the state working to protect our coast. To learn more visit Facebook.com/OceanaGeorgia
OPENING Georgia’s coast to dangerous seismic airgun blasting and dirty offshore oil drilling would be a shortsighted mistake with irreversible consequences. Our state boasts a beautiful natural coastline which is directly tied to over 23,000 jobs and roughly $1.3 billion in domestic production that rely on a clean coast.
The tourism sector thrives because of our natural and largely undeveloped coast and barrier islands. People come here to explore truly vibrant natural landscapes.
As a coastal Georgia resident, marine researcher and ocean advocate, I was drawn to this state almost three years ago. It wasn’t just the beautiful ocean life that brought me to Georgia, but also the exciting developments in my field.
Groups like Marine Extension Sea Grant work on developing fisheries technology and industry for Georgia. The Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve boasts over 6,100 acres dedicated to research education, stewardship and resource management.
The Caretta Research Project, The Sea Turtle Center and Tybee Island Marine Science Center educate and advocate for a healthy Georgia environment. Oceana works to stop the expansion of offshore drilling and maintain healthy fisheries. These organizations work together across our coast to protect our unique flora and fauna.
The Georgia coast is a winter haven for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale (NARW). These majestic creatures migrate here every year to calve in the world’s only calving corridor for the whale.
Currently there are thought to be around 400 North Atlantic right whales left. In April of1985, the Georgia General Assembly unanimously designated NARW as our official state marine mammal. This means we have a unique duty to protect their critical habitat and ensure that another marine mammal doesn’t go extinct.
The oceans are my place of work and my place of personal sanctuary. The risk of devastation from offshore oil drilling can be irreversible.
When they drill, they spill — and that would destroy our beloved coast, my serenity and the jobs and solace of so many other local residents.
Dirty and dangerous offshore oil exploration and drilling are a threat to Georgia’s healthy marine environments, and the tourism, fishing and recreational industries that depend on a clean coast. That’s why Governor Kemp says he stands with his Georgia constituents against offshore drilling activities. Our new governor has said he will work to protect our coast.
“I support increasing our nation’s energy independence, but I do not support seismic testing or offshore drilling off the Georgia coast in order to do so,” Kemp said. “My priority as governor will be to protect our vibrant coastline and ensure tourism and economic development and improve the lives of Georgians living in Brunswick and surrounding areas.”
Now, every single East and West Coast governor is unanimously opposed to selling our oceans off to the highest bidder and threatening marine life and coastal communities along the way. I want to thank Gov. Kemp for protecting our coast.
Across the state more than 10 Georgia municipalities, a growing number of local elected officials and small businesses have opposed attempts by the fossil fuel industry to change our beach towns into oil towns. It’s clear where Georgians stand.
With the support of a governor who wants to protect our coast, we can continue to grow industries which can, and will, support a thriving future, rather than become a coastal state covered in oil.
President Trump needs to listen to the people who run our state and communities which are directly tied to our coasts, instead of oil interests and reverse his radical plan to blast our wildlife and expand drilling in U.S. waters.