Opponents Speak Out Against Offshore Drilling

Last year it was the state, now it's Congress considering whether to allow drilling near Mississippi's barrier islands. The congressional bill is part of a multi-billion dollar appropriations measure.

While the House and Senate work out a compromise, opponents are speaking out on what they say could be an environmental disaster for our state.

Louis Skrmetta doesn't think the visitors who catch his family's boats to Ship Island want to see rigs from the beach. He says just look at the huge structures off Dauphine Island in Alabama.

"The waters around Dauphin Island with the murky water and the trash and the ugliness off the beach. We certainly don't want this off Horn Island and Ship Island."

Sierra Club representative Becky Gillette says drilling will make the islands vanish.

"Oil and gas drilling would cause a subsidence of the islands. In other words, the islands would sink and disappear. This is a well known phenomenon with oil and gas. All you have to do is look at Louisiana with its vanishing coastline."

The Sierra Club is also worried that losing the islands means losing protection from hurricanes and that drilling will be a blow to the seafood industry.

"So we're really talking about for a very short term economic gain for a few oil companies, we're risking the crown jewel of Mississippi. We're risking our seafood industry and we're risking our economy."

Skrmetta says the islands' pristine beauty is also at risk.

"Ship Island just made the top 205 tourist destinations in the South according to Southern Living magazine. We can't have this kind of thing happening to our tourism assets. It's outrageous."

Skrmetta and Gillette hope that will be the general feeling among tourism leaders, casino representatives and other concerned citizens who want drilling to stay out of Mississippi waters.