South Carolina AG joins suit to stop seismic tests offshore state

South Carolina Atty. Gen. Alan M. Wilson moved in federal court on Jan. 7 to have the state join 16 cities and towns’ lawsuit to stop oil and gas seismic surveys in the state’s offshore areas. This lawsuit is separate from one by environmental groups and other organizations in which Maryland Atty. Gen. Brian E. Frosh and eight other Mid-Atlantic states’ AGs intervened nearly 2 weeks earlier.

South Carolina Atty. Gen. Alan M. Wilson (R) moved in federal court on Jan. 7 to have the state join 16 cities and towns’ lawsuit to stop oil and gas seismic surveys in the state’s offshore areas. This lawsuit is separate from one by environmental groups and other organizations in which Maryland Atty. Gen. Brian E. Frosh (D) and eight other Mid-Atlantic states’ AGs intervened nearly 2 weeks earlier (OGJ Online, Dec. 20, 2018).

Like that action, however, the lawsuit by the South Carolina communities and the Small Business Chamber of Commerce is a response to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s issuing incidental harassment authorizations at the end of November to five offshore geophysical contractors seeking to conduct the first oil and gas surveys on the Mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf since the 1980s (OGJ Online, Nov. 30, 2018).

The geophysical contractors still need to get permits from the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management before they can go ahead.

“We understand the need to have a long-term, reliable energy supply. However, any comprehensive energy strategy must comply with the rule of law,” Wilson said on Jan. 7 when he moved to intervene. “While oil and gas exploration could bring in billions of dollars, doing it without adequate study and precautions could end up costing billions of dollars and cause irreversible damage to our economy and coast.”

The motion in US District Court for South Carolina’s Charleston Division noted that while several coastal parties already had joined the lawsuit, “the attorney general represents the interests of the entire state including its agencies that could be affected by the seismic surveying and the general public.” The motion said, “No single plaintiff or the present group of plaintiffs represents all of those interests.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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