Opponents Of Offshore Drilling Try To Rally Support For Their Cause

"Everybody I've talked to is outraged," says Captain Louis Skrmetta, owner of Ship Island Excursions.

"People don't want this to happen. These are the last undeveloped barrier islands in the country, a major tourism asset for South Mississippi and Harrison County. I don't know of anybody that's for this except oil company executives."

Skrmetta has talked to a lot of people in his campaign to stop the state from erecting oil rigs just one mile from the shores of his beloved barrier islands.

"For one thing you've got the tourism industry that's spending millions of dollars promoting tourism," says Skrmetta.

"Here you have all these condo resorts being built left and right. Look at the gaming industry. How much money we've spent here over the past 10 years. And here the governor wants to create an industrial site next to it. It doesn't make sense."

Skrmetta sites an example of what that industrial site could look like.

"Just drive next door and you'll see it over at Dauphin Island."

They're economic as well as environmental concerns, that Skrmetta and others say the federal and state government are ignoring in their rush to exploit potential offshore reserves.

"The folks on the coast have got to continue to weigh in on this as they have and let the Governor and other people know we're not buying into this," says Louie Miller of the Sierra Club.

It's something Sierra Club Director Louie Miller believes the May 27th 9 a.m. hearing in downtown Jackson is actually designed to prevent.

"What we want is a hearing on the coast where coast residents don't have to take a day off from work, drive three and a half hours one way to Jackson," says Miller. "We want a hearing that's easily accessible to the public at a time in which the public can participate."