The people of the Lowcountry have long enjoyed the coastal areas of South Carolina. We love the wide beaches, marshlands and the blackwater rivers. For generations, families have gone to the coast to savor old memories and create new ones.

And I bet no one goes to the beach hoping to see oil slicks on the water or tar balls in the sand. The coast needs your help to keep it that way.

In 2016, coastal residents helped stop the federal government from opening the Atlantic Ocean to seismic blasting and drilling. But the fight resumed in 2017 when Trump administration officials proposed putting the Atlantic back in the offshore energy plan.

Even worse, the oil and gas industry stepped up efforts to eliminate or waive new safety precautions created in response to the massive Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

Offshore drilling isn’t just oil derricks in the ocean. It’s also waste management facilities, processing plants, pipelines from the rigs to shore and across land and plants to separate natural gas and oil.

Each of these steps results in spills and leaks every day. One well in the Gulf has been leaking for 14 years.

Offshore drilling is a risky, dirty business. And it’s a forever decision: Once a company drills, that offshore well will never go away, and the potential for disaster is there forever.

Ironically, any oil and gas produced from the Atlantic is likely to be exported. The U.S. already exports 1 million barrels per day. Thanks to onshore drilling (and fracking), we are closer than ever to energy independence.

Stop offshore drilling in the Atlantic, SODA, is an all-volunteer, nonpartisan grassroots group of coastal residents. Its only mission is to stop oil exploration. Every city and town along the South Carolina coast is strongly opposed to offshore drilling. SODA needs citizens from across South Carolina to join the fight to protect our coast.

You can help by contacting U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to ask them to join Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson and U.S. Rep. Tom Rice in opposing federal plans to open the Atlantic to seismic testing and drilling.

Paul Wallace

E. Amy Lane

Johns Island