Impact Story 19: Southern Environmental Law Center: Protecting the South’s Land, Water and People From Offshore Drilling

Posted April 19, 2017

For thirty years, Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has fought to protect the South’s land, water and people against a myriad of environmental threats, ranging from coal ash pollution to offshore drilling, to mountain-top removal. Since 2001, The Orton Foundation, an affiliate of Louis Bacon’s Moore Charitable Foundation has been a proud partner of this major environmental champion.

The SELC's standpoint on offshore drilling and seismic testing: the South has too much to lose and too little to gain by opening up the Southeast coast.

The SELC’s standpoint on offshore drilling and seismic testing: the South has too much to lose and too little to gain by opening up the Southeast coast.

In early 2015, the federal government announced it was considering opening up the Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia coasts to offshore oil and gas drilling. This was a federal policy shift that would jeopardize communities, jobs, and beloved beaches that are the very heart of these coastal states.

The threat of drilling off the coast galvanized residents who understood the negative repercussion oil extraction posed to the area’s economy and environment. The SELC focused right in on the economic argument, convinced that a popular report boasting the benefits of drilling did not account for the value of a larger “blue economy.” They contacted economists at the Center for the Blue Economy of The Middlebury Institute of International Studies (CBE) in Monterey, California and requested a deeper probe into the possible effects of exploration for oil and gas offshore of the slated coastal areas.

The CBE’s ultimate report provided a perspective on the broader ocean-related economic activity in the region that could be affected by oil and gas activity, flagging that other non-extraction ocean-related industries in the region accounted for 249,000 jobs.

What happened next? Read CBE’s great blog post here.