Tomorrow on the radio program I will be joined by a representative from Florida Energy Associates (FEA), a group of independent American oil and gas producers, that has started EnergyFLA.com and supports opening up Florida’s waters to oil and gas exploration and production. EnergyFLA has been ramping up awareness and education efforts and have been putting together a number of action items that citizens can participate in to further the call to “Drill here, drill now.” FEA retained Fishkind & Associates, Inc. to analyze the economic impacts of offshore drilling on the shores of Florida’s coastline. The positives from implementing offshore drilling far outweigh any potential problems, of which there are few.
For years, the State of Florida has opposed exploration for oil and gas in Florida’s coastal waters. Very little exploration has been done so it is hard to gauge just how much energy lies in the seabeds, but conservative estimates claim that there is over 3 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida. Two detailed government studies found that offshore exploration and production would not have significant adverse environmental impacts. New innovations keep risks at a minimum and make offshore drilling a high-tech, low-footprint process. Tools such as sub-sea technology, drilling barges and ships beyond the sightline of the beach, temporary offshore structures and directional drilling from inland sites are several of these new innovations. The chance of oil leakage is less than natural seepage.
Most offshore drilling rigs are far enough from land that they are out of the sightline as well. Based on my personal experience, cruise ships cause more of a nuisance to cluttering the horizon at the beach. Many of these Jack-up rigs are used temporarily as well. And more permanent rigs are known for being wonderful coral reef bases – something we need desperately in Florida.
Some more desperate needs in Florida are revenue and jobs. Energy exploration could mean an addition $2.2 billion direct state revenue infusion and create 20,000 jobs. Total economic activity is estimated at $4.1 billion per year. Over 20 years, Florida could collect $31 billion in new revenues. And with concerns over national security, how can we continue to allow Florida and the federal government to keep these coastal waters off limits? We could be providing our own oil instead of bending over and grabbing our ankles for the Middle East and Venezuela.
Progress Energy in Florida is also proposing a 30% increase to our energy bills currently. This is before the dreaded Crap & Tax Bill is passed. These new energy sources would help in fighting back this burdening “tax” on Floridians. And keep in mind that every other country that conducts offshore drilling, already own leases to drill in these same waters. I trust America to be safer and more environmental than these other countries. What does China care if one of their oil spills pollutes a Florida beach?