Judicial Watch: South Carolina Joins Suit Against Seismic Blasting

Judicial Watch: South Carolina Joins Suit Against Seismic Blasting

In a politically significant development, South Carolina leaders have joined the fight against Trump Administration’s permitting of seismic blasting off the Atlantic coast.

Last week, the Republican Attorney General of South Carolina, backed by that state’s Republican governor, announced that he was joining the suit against seismic blasting, which is an exploratory step prior to offshore drilling. It was already clear that proposals to begin drilling off the Palmetto State’s coast are broadly unpopular there. Sixteen South Carolina cities were already part of the lawsuit, along with nine environmental groups.

However, state Attorney General Alan Wilson is the first Republican to join nine Democratic state attorneys general as part of the suit to block the seismic blasting permits. This underscores the bipartisan nature of opposition to Trump’s wrong-headed policy. Both Wilson and Gov. Henry McMaster supported Trump’s candidacy for president.

Their home-grown basis for supporting the suit despite their political ties is no mystery: Tourism is one of their state’s most important industries, and anything which would present a major threat to coastal tourism is political poison in the state. In fact, opposition to offshore drilling is regarded as a principal reason that when he was elected last November, Joe Cunningham became the first Democrat to represent South Carolina’s coastal First Congressional District in 40 years.

Cunningham filed a bill last week to prevent drilling off the Atlantic coast, one of several such bills filed on the same day to express opposition to drilling across the country. NCLCV’s Executive Director Carrie Clark was quoted in a press release from U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva. “Local governments and businesses across North Carolina have one message for President Trump: ‘Not off our coast,'” said Clark. “This issue transcends party lines because our coastal ecosystem is too important to our vital fishing and tourism economies. We support Rep. Cunningham’s bill.”

This growing, and now explicitly bipartisan, coalition against one of President Trump’s core energy policy initiatives makes it increasingly unlikely that the courts will dismiss the challenges as political in nature. Instead, they are based on genuine threats to fragile marine resources and the human economies that depend on them.

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