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Council: No oil rigs or wind turbines

Pawleys Island Town Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing offshore drilling at its monthly meeting on Sept. 14, but they didn’t stop there.

Proposed coastal wind turbines were also met with opposition among council members.

After attending the Pawleys Island Civic Association meeting on Sept. 5 and hearing from property owners who opposed offshore drilling, Mayor Bill Otis Jr. drafted the resolution and submitted it for council’s approval.

Otis called a bill in Congress that would allow drilling 12 miles miles off the East Coast “totally irresponsible” and “scary.”

Councilman Mike Adams said he supports drilling 50 miles from the coast but agreed that 12 miles is “scary.”

“It’s a little unbelievable that they would consider it,” he added.

Councilman Howard Ward, who worked in the oil industry before retiring, agreed.

“Twelve miles, that’s dangerous, for a lot more reasons than just environmental,” Ward said.

The council also reiterated its opposition to proposed wind turbines off the coast, reminding folks that it had already passed a resolution last November. That resolution opposed turbines that were visible from 30 feet above sea level from anywhere on the island.

Otis said he has been researching turbines on the Internet and found that some are 260 feet tall, and big enough to support a helicopter landing. With the addition of 115-foot rotors, some of the structures are as tall as a 37-story building.

“You put a 370-foot (turbine), or a field of them offshore … it will obliterate the peaceful view from Pawleys Island,” Otis said. “It’s something we need to be very attentive to. As we said when we passed the resolution in November, this could be very destructive.”

With two nuclear power plants being built in the state, Councilman Glennie Tarbox questioned the need for wind farms to supply energy.

“I don’t think we need the windmills,” he said.

Adams said he supported wind and solar power – adding he was not a “nimby” (not-in-my-backyard) person – but he said he preferred if the proposed turbines were “far enough to the back of my backyard so it doesn’t affect me.”

Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri told Council he took the town’s concerns to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management at a meeting in Litchfield earlier this month.

He added a state advisory committee studying offshore wind energy wanted to hear more from opponents than “we just don’t want them.”

One of the town’s main arguments against the turbines, according to Fabbri, is the potential negative effect on tourism.

Fabbri also told the committee since the entire island is historically significant, the surrounding area should be considered historically significant, also.

Some of the concerns the advisory committee is looking at include: the effects on right whales and pristine coastal areas, visual pollution, dealing with commerce and the military, and connecting to the power grid.

Associated Press writer Bruce Smith contributed to this story.