Earlier this month, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb visited Pensacola to promote offshore oil exploration. As co-chair of Explore Offshore, a project of the American Petroleum Institute (API) that encourages the expansion of offshore oil exploration, Webb intended to counter the staunch opposition to drilling already in place along the Gulf. The crux of his argument was simple: vast improvements have been made to the oil industry and any drilling would take place “way over the sight line” so it would not “be a bother.” Floridians, however, would argue otherwise.
A recent report by Oceana revealed that 9 years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the federal government has failed to adopt and implement comprehensive safety measures to protect us from another disaster of this scale. The report found that at least 6,500 oil spills occurred in U.S. waters between 2007 and 2017 and that these spills are typically far larger than reported. Additionally, spills such as the Taylor Energy oil spill, which has been leaking millions of barrels of oil for 14 years now, remain uncapped with no solution in sight.
Finally, Floridians know all too well that just because you cannot see an oil rig, does not mean your shores and tourist economies are safe. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig was off the coast of Louisiana, nowhere near Florida’s Gulf coast, and yet oil ended up on our beaches. Offshore drilling is already too close, and we cannot allow it one inch closer. Perhaps Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said it best, “No drilling. Period.”
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