Congressman having second thoughts about offshore Atlantic exploration

Congressman having second thoughts about offshore Atlantic exploration

San Francisco: Prominent US congressman Mark Sanford looks like he’s backing away from endorsing the move toward opening up the Atlantic for offshore oil and gas drilling.

Sanford, a Republican Representative for South Carolina’s first congressional district, told The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston on Thursday that he has concerns based on what he has learned about the use of seismic air guns to test what’s below the sea floor.

Ever since the Obama administration opened up the possibility of Atlantic exploration there has been much public debate all along the eastern seaboard states that would be most affected.

Several communities in those coastal states, including 20 in South Carolina, have gone on record opposing exploration.

Usually the pro-exploration group leans Republican and emphasises the potential economic and employment opportunities of drilling, whereas the anti-group tends Democrat and expresses concerns about the potential for environmental ruinous accidents.

Sanford told The Post and Courier he was concerned that the public won’t learn what companies doing the seismic surveys find and won’t be able to weigh the pros and cons of the issue.

He’s in good company as 75 marine scientists issued a letter of concern this week over the possible use of the controversial seismic air guns. In the letter the scientists warned use of the guns “poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life at the species and population levels”.

Sanford gained notoriety in 2009 when, as Governor of South Carolina, he disappeared for a week to be with his lover in Argentina. The scandal wrecked his marriage and saw him censured by the state legislature.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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