Push Continues For Drilling Off Florida Coast

June 11, 2018

Proponents of drilling for oil and natural gas haven’t given up on tapping areas closer to Florida’s shoreline despite repeated assurances those waters will be exempt from a White House plan to expand exploration.

The Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute announced Wednesday a multi-state “Explore Offshore” coalition to support the Trump administration’s plan to open previously protected parts of the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.

The coalition’s Florida team, which is focused on the eastern Gulf waters, includes former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, former Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris, former Puerto Rico state Sen. Miriam Ramirez and Florida Petroleum Council Executive Director David Mica.

Mica said Floridians use more than 25 million gallons of motor fuel a day, while the industry is restricted from “some very, very good areas” that potentially have oil.

“We need to do it in an environmentally responsible manner, but we must go forward,” Mica said. “I think that it’s really putting your head in the sand if you think that we’re not going to need a lot more oil and gas into the future and that we can rely only on alternative fuels.”

Many Florida officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and members of Florida’s congressional delegation from both sides of the political aisle have denounced the possibility of opening to drilling nearly all of the nation’s outer continental shelf — a jurisdictional term describing submerged lands 10.36 statutory miles off Florida’s west coast and 3 nautical miles off the east coast.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appeared briefly Jan. 9 in Tallahassee to announce drilling would not occur off the Florida coast. But the Trump administration’s stance has not been formalized and continues to draw questions.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on Wednesday equated the petroleum industry’s new coalition with lingering skepticism over Zinke’s assurances that waters off the Florida coast will be exempt from the plan.

“Here we go. Like us, Big Oil doesn’t believe Florida is really ‘off the table’ to new drilling — despite what Scott and the Trump Administration keep saying — and now they are making a new push to drill closer to Florida’s shores,” Nelson tweeted. “We can’t let that happen!”

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected to release a draft report on the offshore proposal before the end of the year. That will kick off a second round of public hearings.

Drilling proponents have hailed the prospects of exploring for oil and gas closer to shore as benefiting consumers by potentially creating jobs and additional government revenue while strengthening national security.

The American Petroleum Institute said its coalition features more than 100 businesses, organizations and officials from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

In its release, the institute highlighted Florida’s dependence on natural gas, which generates 67 percent of the state’s electricity, and forecast that offshore development could result in $2.6 billion in private investment in Florida and $1 billion per year in state revenues.

Kottkamp said the “availability of affordable energy is critical” to Florida’s qualify of life.

“We look forward to working with our local leaders to discuss ways to maintain our state’s natural beauty while at the same time expanding opportunities to keep our nation energy independent,” Kottkamp said in a statement.

In November, Florida voters will decide whether to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban nearshore oil and gas drilling. That ban would affect state-controlled waters.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida


10 Responses to “Push Continues For Drilling Off Florida Coast”

  1. Richard Matthew on September 4th, 2018 5:51 am

    Everyone remembers the gulf oil spill. That was the most disaterous thing that happened in world history. Look what happened to the cities around Texas and other states around it It killed and destroy allot of sea wild life. So one guy is saying we get out sea food from over seas That means he gives a green light to kill all of our loving sea creatures. If I were a tourist from up north and another Deep Horizon happened who would ever want to come to Florida and see nothing but dead things that the oil spill created. Look at the people who love to fish in the Gulf well another deep horizon there wont be any fish to catch They will all be floating on top of the sea water dead.Some people may say another Deep Horizon will never happen again. That’s what said before Deep Horizon. Any one who votes yes to put the Rigs in is gambling the future of Florida of become a wastless no mans land and any who votes for it should have his head examined

  2. Barbarossa on June 12th, 2018 1:26 am

    There is no shortage of oil and we are not forced to buy from the ME. We do so for several reasons. We have agreements with SArabia going back to before WWII to buy their oil at a certain price. The US, simultaneously, buys and exports oil. It is all a very old con game and the old adage “Don’t caca where you eat” should be applied here. If you want an oilfield job go get one but don’t decide the fate of our Gulf over your greed.

  3. nod on June 11th, 2018 10:56 pm

    Drill baby drill and when we become totally oil independent the middle East can eat their oil. Then we will not be subsidising terrorism by driving our cars.

  4. Concerned on June 11th, 2018 9:38 pm

    I hope and pray that the oil companies will never be able to ruin our beaches the way they ruined the beaches in Louisiana. Believe it or not, in the sixties, Louisiana’s beaches were beautiful.

  5. Niknak50 on June 11th, 2018 8:40 pm

    After 70 years of hundreds of offshore platforms and rigs off Louisiana’s coast, the fishing is great, exactly due to the existence of these structures. But no, lets suppress drilling in our own country and keep sending our dollars to terrorist regimes that finance terrorism and suppress human rights to buy a product we can produce ourselves.

  6. Worker on June 11th, 2018 6:53 pm

    Most of the seafood we buy and eat come from over seas anyway…. so I say drill away if that means gas prices go down and stay down… more good jobs too! Besides La, Miss, Al already have them and the fishing around them is great!!!

  7. Taylor on June 11th, 2018 5:06 pm

    You people couldn’t last a week without fuel but want to ban offshore drilling ??Do you hypocrites even think before you type ?

  8. EMD on June 11th, 2018 12:41 pm

    JUST SAY. “NO ! ! !”

  9. Sickofpolitics on June 11th, 2018 10:54 am

    Once they destroy the fish life in the Gulf of Mexico…a food source will be destroyed…they DON’T care….they could care less is the “lesser” of us have food….they forget where their food comes from and maybe they should think about it…there options to power homes,cars etc that don’t request cool,oil…all efforts to destroy our country is driven by greed….the wealthy can’t get enough $$$$….time to stop them…

  10. Wilykyote on June 11th, 2018 6:55 am

    If every child was homeschooled……we all worked from home…..we got everything
    we needed sent to us from Amazon etc. by delivery. Then Floridians
    ( 21 million of us ) would hardly need any gas. Then we certainly wouldn’t need
    No offshore drilling . Our politicians seem to have what I call “the MEME’s” and
    “the POOR ME’s”. They want someone else to do The dirty work….then cry
    when it ain’t exactly how THEY wanted it.

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