Wed., March 31, 2010 3:35pm (EDT)

Coast Reacts To Offshore Drilling News
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 4 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Offshore oil rigs like this one in the U.K. might be coming to new areas of the U.S. coastline.  (photo Simon Johnston)
Offshore oil rigs like this one in the U.K. might be coming to new areas of the U.S. coastline. (photo Simon Johnston)
Reaction on the Georgia coast was mixed Wednesday to news that vast new coastal areas will be open to oil and natural gas drilling.

President Obama says offshore oil and natural gas are vital to energy security.

Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman says, he trusts federal officials to make the right decision.

"I think that with the technology we have available today, it can be done much safer than it was done in the past," Buelterman says. "If those folks deem it to be safe, and I believe it is, then I think that we can support it."

Savannah Congressmen Jack Kingston and John Barrow both have expressed support for offshore drilling.

Environmentalists, however, describe themselves as "sickened" and "outraged" by the decision.

Chatham County Commissioner Pat Shay says, offshore wind is a better solution.

"The amount of energy we can save by just being a whole lot less wasteful is more than they'll ever be able to get offshore drilling," Shay says. "The amount we can get from solar and wind in South Georgia is potentially huge."

Geologists doubt Georgia has major offshore reserves.

Much of it would be close to protected waters.

The 20-square-mile Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary was excluded from Wednesday's announcement.