Political Insider

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Pressure mounting on Georgia governor to oppose offshore drilling plan

The pressure is mounting on Gov. Nathan Deal to oppose the Trump administration’s move to open nearly all of the nation’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Republican is the only governor of a coastal state who has yet to oppose or embrace the plan to give energy companies access to more than a billion acres off America’s shore, though he’s said he’s concerned about its impact. 

The Atlanta City Council voted to back a resolution this week that would oppose seismic testing and oil and gas development off Georgia’s coasts. 

And a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, including many from southeast Georgia, introduced resolutions this week raising concerns it could disrupt the state’s fishing and tourism industries. 

One of the measures, Senate Resolution 706, warns that offshore drilling “could adversely affect Georgia's fishing and coastal tourism industries for decades” and notes that more than 140 Georgia towns and cities have passed resolutions opposing oil drilling. 

Every governor on the West Coast and all but one – Maine – on the Atlantic seaboard opposes the plan. The governors of Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are on board.

And Florida won a reprieve from the order last month. Gov. Rick Scott – a vocal Trump backer likely to run for the U.S. Senate – earned an exemption after appealing directly to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Deal, who earlier said he was worried about marring Georgia’s “pristine” shore, said last month that government surveys suggest there’s little recoverable oil off Georgia’s shore, potentially rendering the debate a moot point.

“You’re not going to have drilling unless there’s something worth drilling for,” Deal said. “And my understanding is that preliminary tests in the past have indicated there probably is not a resource worth drilling off the Georgia coast for.”

Read more: Deal, coastal Georgia officials raise concerns about offshore drilling


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.