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TO CREATE A STUDY COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE THE FEASIBILITY OF NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN OFF THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA, TO PROVIDE FOR ITS COMPOSITION, APPOINTMENT, POWERS, DUTIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES, AND TO REQUIRE THE COMMITTEE TO MAKE A REPORT ON ITS RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEFORE JANUARY 8, 2008, AT WHICH TIME IT IS DISSOLVED.
Whereas, there are proposals before the United States Congress which would lift the federal moratorium for offshore natural gas drilling and allow coastal states to explore offshore drilling for natural gas; and
Whereas, the Outer Continental Shelf, which includes South Carolina's 187 miles of coastline, may be a source for increased supply of natural gas; and
Whereas, there may be benefits, including private and public economic benefits, to the exploration and drilling of natural gas; and
Whereas, there may be detriments, including degradation of the state's environment and quality of life, to the exploration and drilling of natural gas. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. (A) There is created a State Government Study Committee to examine and report to the General Assembly on the feasibility of natural gas exploration in the Atlantic coastal waters of the State of South Carolina.
(B) The study committee is comprised of eighteen members to include:
(1) six at-large members to be selected by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Secretary of Commerce, including one member designated by the:
(a) Speaker of the House of Representatives representing the state's agricultural industry;
(b) President Pro Tempore of the Senate representing the state's environmental interests;
(c) Secretary of Commerce representing the state's manufacturing industry;
(d) Speaker of the House of Representatives representing the state's coastal tourism interests;
(e) President Pro Tempore of the Senate representing the state's natural gas distributors; and
(f) Secretary of Commerce representing the state's economic development interests;
(2) one member from each of the state's six United States Congressional Districts who must be selected by the members of the General Assembly representing each United States Congressional District;
(3) one member from the House of Representatives Minority Party selected by the House Minority Leader;
(4) one member from the Senate Minority Party selected by the Senate Minority Leader;
(5) one member from the House of Representatives Majority Party selected by the House Majority Leader;
(6) one member from the Senate Majority Party selected by the Senate Majority Leader; and
(7) the chairman of the House of Representatives Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, or his designee, and the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, or his designee, shall serve as co-chairmen of the committee.
(C) The members of the committee shall serve until their successors are appointed and qualified or the committee is dissolved. A vacancy on the committee must be filled in the manner of the original appointment and for the remainder of the unexpired term.
(D) The committee shall use clerical and professional staff from the Department of Commerce for its staff and also may request the support of the professional and clerical staff of the standing committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate as the committee determines appropriate.
(E) In conducting its study, the committee shall consider comprehensive implications relating to energy, economic development, tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, the environment, agriculture, manufacturing, public safety, national security, employment, and possible impacts on state and local economies. The committee shall seek expertise in order to consider these comprehensive affects. Such input shall be sought from interested and knowledgeable persons and public, private and nonprofit organizations, including, but not limited to the following state agencies:
(i) Department of Commerce;
(ii) Department of Health and Environmental Control;
(iii) Department of Natural Resources;
(iv) Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism; and
(v) State Energy Office of the Budget and Control Board.
(F) The committee shall render its report and recommendations to the General Assembly before January 8, 2008, at which time it is dissolved.
SECTION 2. This joint resolution takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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