Group of SC senators send along offshore drilling ban

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A small group of South Carolina senators wasted no time in passing a bill that would likely halt drilling for oil or natural gas off the state’s coast.

A subcommittee voted 4-1 Wednesday to send the bill to the full Senate Agriculture Committee.

The proposal prevents state and local governments from issuing permits to build pipes, refinaries or other equipment needed for offshore drilling, making it impractical to drill even if the federal government allows it.

The Senate passed a similar ban in 2019 in the budget, but that was temporary. The House has not acted on a similar proposal.

A number of Republicans are behind the proposal, even though President Donald Trump supports offshore drilling. They include Gov. Henry McMaster.

Opponents of the bill said it could disturb wildlife and damage the state’s coast, which is vital to the tourism economy.

Supporters said the country needs the option of drilling for oil and natural gas offshore in case supplies from other places are disrupted.