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SC governor and attorney general 'in complete agreement' against offshore drilling

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Henry McMaster and Alan Wilson (copy)

Gov. Henry McMaster (left) and Attorney General Alan Wilson discussed President Donald Trump's push to open up offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean last week. Wilson's office said the two state leaders are "in complete agreement." 

COLUMBIA — With political pressure mounting, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson spoke last week about their opposition to President Donald Trump's effort to open up the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling. 

It marked the first time that McMaster, the state's top executive, and Wilson, its top attorney, are coordinating to fight the U.S. Department of the Interior's plan to lease tracts of oil and gas off South Carolina's coast. 

Wilson's office said Monday the two statewide elected Republican officials are "in complete agreement" about the threat that offshore oil and gas exploration poses to South Carolina and the state's $21 billion tourism economy. 

McMaster and Wilson, their spokesmen said, are both adamantly opposed to seismic testing, federal leasing "and anything related to it that could harm our coast. "

Last week, McMaster, a Trump ally, told The Post and Courier he is prepared to do "anything and everything" to stop the president's administration from succeeding in opening up the Atlantic to oil and gas companies.

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Also Monday, Wilson's office announced he was sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — something 12 other state attorneys general did in February. 

Meanwhile, other opponents to offshore drilling seem prepared to move beyond words. 

On Tuesday, officials with the Coastal Conservation League, the Southern Environmental Law Center, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council will meet on the steps of the federal courthouse in Charleston to announce how they plan to stop seismic testing in the coastal waters off the East Coast.

The Trump administration approved that surveying technique, which uses seismic airguns to map out the ocean floor, in late November. The practice, however, is considered harmful to marine mammals. 

Among the Charleston-area political figures expected to attend that press conference Tuesday are Democratic congressman-elect Joe Cunningham, Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

Reach Andrew Brown at 843-708-1830 or follow him on Twitter @andy_ed_brown.

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