When the Myrtle Beach City Council votes on seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean later today, the result will mean nothing.
The resolution opposing seismic testing will be a statement of the sense of council, if it passes. However, local governments are not part of the decision process.
Local media reports speculate Myrtle Beach City Council is split 4-3 with Mayor John Rhodes, and council members Wayne Gray, Susan Grissom Means and Mike Chestnut opposing seismic testing while council members Randal Wallace, Phil Render and Mike Lowder reportedly support it.
But, it really doesn’t make any difference what Myrtle Beach City Council does.
SCDHEC determines consistency of permit requests with coastal zone management practices. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issues the permits.
Seismic testing uses loud blasts of sound from airguns to gather data about what oil reserves might be under the ocean floor.
The hoped for result is that seismic testing will prove oil reserves of sufficient size to justify recovery are present under the ocean floor. Those supporting testing see this result as an economic boom for the state.
Opponents of seismic testing, and later drilling, point to the potential harm to sea mammals and the ever present possibility of another Deepwater Horizon oil blowout that devastated the Gulf Coast in April 2010.