Stop Offshore Drilling

Oil and gas drilling temporarily banned off the coast of South Carolina

In 2020, the Trump Administration directed the U.S. Department of the Interior to place a 10-year moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and gas off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The ban took effect July 1, 2022, and is scheduled to expire on June 20, 2032. In so doing, Trump reversed his earlier proposal to significantly expand offshore drilling into new areas, including the Atlantic coast (see below). Coastal Conservation League encourages President Biden to make the moratorium permanent.


In 2018, the Trump Administration proposed expanding offshore drilling, ignoring opposition from more than 1,200 local, state and federal officials, more than 150 municipalities nationwide, 26 coastal communities in South Carolina, and Governor Henry McMaster. The plan would allow offshore oil and gas drilling in the waters of the Atlantic – including South Carolina’s coast – within five years. 

South Carolinians have spoken out against the Administration’s efforts to give our coastline away to the oil industry. An overwhelming majority of our coastal cities and counties have formally opposed offshore drilling and seismic testing. They’re joined by local businesses, commercial fishermen, editorial boards, the Gullah Geechee Nation, state voices in Washington like Mark Sanford, Jim Clyburn and Tim Scott. 

The Risks To Our Coastal Economy and Environment are Too Great

We know that the risks are just too great. Offshore oil and gas drilling threatens our beaches, rivers, creeks, salt marshes and Sea Islands. It threatens wildlife like brown pelicans, bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and endangered North Atlantic right whales. 

Offshore oil and gas drilling threatens our coastal way of life. And it threatens our state’s financial prosperity by throwing into chaos our booming, $20 billion tourism industry. 

A spill like 2010’s Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf would hurt thriving industries, job growth and local fisheries. It would irreversibly damage ecosystems that attract businesses and families. Still worse, drilling advocates want to transform Georgetown and Charleston into refinery hubs for Houston-based oil and gas companies, which would mean consistent pipeline leaks and rampant chemical air pollution. 

President Trump also moved to water down the federal blowout prevention rules that were put in place in response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed eleven people in the Gulf of Mexico and caused over $65 billion in damages. 

No Reason to Drill

All of this downside brings no advantages for South Carolinians. Consumption of oil in United States will peak in 2028, according to the US Energy Information Agency. Cars and trucks are becoming more efficient, meaning we’re using less oil. Falling demand is happening as the domestic supply of natural gas is increasing, due to increased domestic production. 

Seismic Testing Hurts Our Oceans

To find oil and gas off our coast, exploration companies want to use seismic testing, loud airguns to test the ocean floor for fossil fuels. Ships haul the guns for hundreds of miles, blasting the air guns every 10 seconds and sending noise louder than jet engines into the ocean. 

Marine mammals like the endangered North Atlantic right whale depend on sound to feed and reproduce. Studies show that no North Atlantic right whales were born in 2017. The Interior Department estimates that seismic testing kills more than 130,000 marine mammals. 

Seismic testing would imperil fisheries on which thousands of jobs depend. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has expressed concerns: “Multi-million dollar recreational and commercial fisheries in our region may potentially be affected by seismic testing.” 

And scientists recently discovered a major coral reef system off the shore of South Carolina.  There has not been time to study and understand the potential impact of drilling on this natural wonder.  The federal government has a positive legal duty to carefully analyze these and other potential impacts as part of any offshore drilling decision.

Staff Contact

Taylor Allred · [email protected]

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