Lawmakers seek firmer stance against drilling off Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP)

- While the governor sticks to cautious, measured responses to President Donald Trump's proposal to expand oil drilling into waters off Georgia and its coastal neighbors, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the Georgia legislature to formally denounce the energy plan as a threat to tourism and fishing.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, serving his last year in office, stands alone among governors of 22 coastal U.S. states in that he's refrained from taking a firm stand for or against Trump's plan to let private companies drill in federal waters currently off-limits to oil exploration.

Hoping to fill the political vacuum, a small group of Democratic and Republican legislators are pushing resolutions in the state House and Senate that would flat out declare opposition to drilling. They argue it would risk fouling Georgia's pristine salt marshes, threaten endangered right whales that give birth off Georgia and potentially devastate local economies.

Anti-drilling Democrats have been joined in sponsoring the proposals by at least six GOP lawmakers. One of them is Republican Rep. Jesse Petrea of Savannah, who said he's a big supporter of "fracking and drilling" in the U.S. But he also noted Georgia's 100-mile (160 kilometer) coast is home to nearly one-third of the remaining salt marshes on the East Coast. The state's chain of barrier islands remains largely undeveloped, with vast acreage under federal and st....

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