One more time. No oil drilling near Florida | South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial

The editorial board of the South Florida Sun Sentinel takes a stand on the latest effort by the American Petroleum Institute to drill off Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Like red tide, the push for more drilling near Florida’s beaches is relentless and dangerous.

The latest effort comes from the American Petroleum Institute in the form of a “coalition” called Explore Offshore. In a lame attempt to deflect criticism, the group claims that it wants merely to find out what oil and gas might be available in areas that currently are off-limits.

Those areas include almost any site within 125 miles of Florida’s coast on the Gulf of Mexico and anywhere off the coast on the Atlantic Ocean. Protection for the beaches on which Florida’s tourism industry relies long has been one of the few bipartisan causes in this state. The Department of Defense also supports the gulf prohibition so it can conduct national security tests.

Yet the industry won’t give up. Three weeks ago, Explore Offshore rolled out a campaign that presumes Floridians have short memories.

Jeff Kottkamp is co-chairman in Florida for Explore Offshore. The former state legislator was Charlie Crist’s lieutenant governor in April 2010, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off Louisiana.

Yet Kottkamp claimed that no oil reached Florida. That statement would surprise residents of the Panhandle, where heavy oil arrived in late June. Tarballs hit beaches. Local boaters had been skimming oil. Families planning trips after the school year cancelled. So did June brides. Fishing bans further hurt tourism. BP’s settlement with Florida totaled $3.2 billion.

In an interview with the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, Kottkamp – who said he is receiving no compensation from Explore Offshore – tried to walk back that comment. “We got some oil,” Kottkamp said, “but the pictures in the coverage just made it look horrible.”

For those directly affected, it was horrible. And to refresh Kottkamp’s memory, what remains the world’s largest accidental oil spill could have been catastrophic for much of Florida.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion got to within 30 miles of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. It moves five times faster than other waters in the gulf. Had oil reached it, the current would have carried the oil to the Florida Keys and South Florida. In May 2010, Palm Beach County officials were preparing for such a scenario.

We asked Kottkamp about that close call. He said, “I used to be more in touch with all those facts.”

Explore Offshore’s campaign comes amid controversy about President Trump’s plan to open almost all federal water to drilling and whether Florida would receive an exemption. In January, during a staged event in Tallahassee meant to look spontaneous, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared Florida “off the table.”

We were suspicious of that pledge and remain so. Zinke held the event with Gov. Rick Scott, who is running against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. It came just five days after Trump announced his plan. Scott has favored expanded offshore drilling. Nelson sponsored the legislation that extended the 125-mile Gulf of Mexico ban until 2022.

Here’s more reason for suspicion. Politico reported last month that “Zinke and Scott were careful to ‘not say the entire Eastern Gulf,’ was off the table” in January. “There are some Republicans who are prepared to make a deal. Seventy-five miles is the expected buffer, but folks might be willing to throw it a little further.”

Kottkamp said he would not support any plan that makes oil rigs visible from the shore. He added, “The industry has learned a whole lot from the (BP) spill. There is improved safety.”

Actually, the industry seems to have learned nothing. After hearing from lobbyists, Trump proposed weakening two safety rules that emerged from the work of a commission that studied the BP spill. One was designed specifically to prevent another blowout similar to the Deepwater Horizon.

Though Kottkamp maintains that he supports just an investigation of what oil might be accessible, Explore Offshore’s website gives away the group’s goal. A fact sheet lists the supposed economic benefits over 20 years of increased oil and gas drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Fortunately, at this point, opposition remains bipartisan. Democrat Nelson wants to extend the 125-mile limit until 2027. So does Florida’s other senator, Republican Marco Rubio. Matt Gaetz, the Republican who represents the Panhandle in Congress, fears the threat expanded oil and gas exploration would pose for the military’s Gulf Test Range.

Further drilling, Gaetz said, “would be devastating to our national security. I don’t have a nuanced view on this. I am opposed.”

The industry cites national security as a reason for expanded drilling. We believe Florida’s security is the reason to say no.

Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Andy Reid and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.

 

Deepwater Horizon oil spill didn’t really hurt Florida, pro-drilling leaders say

Not only did Florida see oil on our beaches, countless business were adversely effected by the perception that Florida’s beaches were closed for business due to the Deepwater Disaster. That’s why the Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition is working hard to protect our coast from any new drilling in the Eastern Gulf. It’s simply not worth the risk

Tampa Bay Times, 8/27/2018

By Craig Pittman

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp caused a furor recently when he claimed oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.”

He now admits he was wrong. Sort of.

“I guess I overstated it,” said Kottkamp, now leading a group seeking to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration, said in an interview this week with the Tampa Bay Times.

His attempt to walk back the remark could offer a preview of the campaign to come as groups push to expand drilling in federal waters eight years later. He and another industry representative say the BP oil spill was more of a public relations disaster fueled by the television news media, rather than an environmental disaster.

“Obviously, yeah, we had some oil, but nothing like what was being reported,” said Kottkamp, who was lieutenant governor at the time of the spill. “You would have thought that the entire state was covered in oil.”

That comes as news to some of those who lived through it.

“I’ve got a few pictures I could show him,” said Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson IV, a fellow Republican whose district includes Pensacola Beach. “I was there. I saw it.”

Kottkamp made his original comments at an Aug. 15 Tallahassee news conference intended to introduce a new industry-backed group, Explore Offshore. The national organization advocates for allowing oil companies to investigate new places to drill in federal waters that are now off-limits. In the Gulf of Mexico, federal waters start 9 miles offshore.

Kottkamp is Explore Offshore’s Florida co-chair. When he claimed that offshore drilling is so safe that BP’s oil didn’t taint Florida’s beaches, reporters asked Kottkamp how he could say such a thing given all the photos of tarballs in 2010. His reply: “Tarballs are naturally occurring.”

RELATED: Florida to receive $3.25B from gulf states’ Deepwater Horizon settlement with BP

Kottkamp’s comments, published by the online news organization Florida Phoenix, stirred social media outrage. Politico Florida reported he was “catching heat.” The Gainesville Sun ran an editorial accusing him and Explore Offshore of using “alternative facts” to mislead the public about the dangers of offshore drilling.

Frank Jackalone, director of Sierra Club Florida, scoffed at Kottkamp’s effort to backpedal on his original, erroneous statement about the oil.

“It wasn’t an exaggeration — it was a lie,” he said. “There was oil on Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach and Fort Walton Beach. People who saw it know better.”

David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, which is one of Explore Offshore’s backers, contends Kottkamp’s words were taken out of context by reporters. He agreed with Kottkamp that the BP spill wasn’t all that bad.

“Florida was largely unaffected,” he said.

Like Kottkamp, Mica said the damage done by the BP spill was due more to “a lot of bad publicity — more by perception than anything that happened. … Perception was a bigger problem than the actual oil on the beaches.”

As for Kottkamp’s original response to the question about tarballs on Panhandle beaches, Mica said, “Well, there are a lot of naturally occurring tarballs.”

Five years after oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster tainted the Panhandle’s sugar-white beaches, petroleum giant BP agreed to an $18.7 billion settlement with Florida, four other gulf states and the federal government. Florida’s share was estimated at $3.25 billion, about $2 billion of which was for the state’s economic losses, primarily from tourism and the seafood industry.

Business and local governments far from the spill indeed collected millions in BP settlement money, in part due to the tourism hit throughout the state. St. Petersburg collected $8 million, Hillsborough County $28.5 million. But Escambia County, which got more oil than any other county, was awarded $70 million.

Robinson, the Escambia commissioner, laughed bitterly when told about Kottkamp’s comments. First elected in 2006, he personally witnessed the damage the oil did to his region’s beaches — both to the environment and to the economy as tourists canceled reservations at local hotels, charter boat captains lost customers, waterfront real estate sales fell apart and beach weddings were moved elsewhere.

He suggested that Explore Offshore was attempting to make the Panhandle and its suffering seem less important to the rest of Florida than if it had hit the southern part of the state.

“Pensacola Beach is just as much a part of Florida as Miami Beach and Clearwater Beach,” said Robinson, who chaired the 23-county Gulf Consortium created after the spill to guide Florida’s spending of the BP settlement money.

Based on what happened eight years ago, he said, the Escambia County Commission is firmly opposed not only to offshore drilling but even checking to see what oil and gas resources might exist in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

“The way Florida depends on its beaches for its tourism resources, petroleum drilling is just incompatible,” he said.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster began with a deadly explosion on April 20, 2010, and grew worse from there. The oil rig 150 miles off the Louisiana coast — and about 100 miles away from Florida — blew up, killing 11 people and injuring 17. The rig sank, and two days later oil began gushing from 5,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico’s surface.

Oil washed up on the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and eventually, in June, reached Florida. Thousands of shiny, reddish-brown globs, some as big as Frisbees, tainted the sugar-white beaches across eight counties, while tar mats the size of throw rugs floated just offshore.

Every day for weeks, tens of thousands of workers in hard hats, hazmat suits and steel-toed boots weaved among the stunned beachgoers, scooping up the glop. Last year the National Institutes of Health reported that workers who came into contact with the oil were more susceptible to health woes than the general population.

RELATED: Seven years after explosion and oil spill, study finds cleanup workers got sicker. 

BP wasn’t able to shut off the flow until July. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil had spewed out and spread through the gulf. Some of it settled on the sea floor, and there it lies still, according to studies by University of South Florida scientists.

Kottkamp’s boss in 2010 was then-Gov. Charlie Crist, who personally visited Pensacola Beach to see the oil.

Crist, now a congressman representing the Tampa Bay area, avoided criticizing Kottkamp directly but disagreed with his comments.

“It did hit the state,” Crist said. “I saw it myself. … It was frightening.”
Seeing the BP spill and its effects convinced him to oppose any drilling near Florida, he said.

RELATED: Scientists still learning from Deepwater Horizon disaster. 

Explore Offshore is just getting started with its national advocacy campaign. Mica, who was at the kickoff news conference in Tallahassee, contended that despite the controversy over Kottkamp’s comments, “I thought it went pretty well.”

Contact Craig Pittman at craig@tampabay.com. Follow @craigtimes.

Oil Industry Targets Florida in new Offshore Drilling Advocacy Push

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon April 21.

City of Tallahassee, Florida– Despite fierce and vocal opposition from Florida residents and businesses, the oil industry is continuing its aggressive campaign to promote drilling off our coasts. As detailed in a recent article in The Hill, the American Petroleum Institute’s Explore Offshore coalition is spearheading lobbying efforts to push offshore drilling along Florida’s coast.

During the press event and rollout of Explore Offshore, former Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp told a room full of reporters in Tallahassee that oil from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.” This false claim is a big problem for the Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition. Not only is that statement simply untrue, it also leaves out the devastating impacts and economic losses the state of Florida faced following the disaster.

While the industry claims that limits on offshore drilling are “disallowing hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” this statement fails to acknowledge the existing 2.6 million jobs that are supported by fishing, tourism and recreation along the Atlantic, Pacific and Florida Gulf coasts. In Florida alone, these industries support 609,899 jobs and generate $37.4 billion in GDP. It is senseless for our thriving coastal economies—and the millions of existing jobs they support—to be put at risk.

A single oil spill could devastate the strong coastal economies that our businesses rely on. The effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill are still felt today, and we refuse to open our coasts up to the threat of this kind of devastation again.

The Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition will continue to fight against any attempts to allow for drilling off our cherished coasts.

Municipalities United Against Offshore Drilling and Exploration Across Florida Keys

Layton the Final Municipality in the Keys to Oppose Offshore Drilling Activities

Press Release Date Friday, July 13, 2018 Location: City of Layton, Florida, Contact: Loryn Baughman © OCEANA / Juan Cuetos

City of Layton, Florida – The City of Layton be­came the sixth and final municipality in the Florida Keys to unanimously pass a resolution against offshore drilling and exploration, including seismic airgun blasting. This follows Key Colony Beach (6/14/2018), Marathon (3/27/2018), Key West (3/21/2018), Monroe County (4/12/2017) and Islamorada (9/8/2016). In total, 72 municipalities in Florida have formally opposed offshore drilling activities off their shores. The City of Layton adds to the growing national opposition, which includes 282 municipalities across the country.

In January, the Trump administration announced plans to open nearly all U.S. waters, including both of Florida’s coasts, to offshore drilling activities. Just days after the announcement, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke tweeted that Florida would be exempt from the plan, however no formal exemption was issued.

“Despite Secretary Zinke’s tweet, Florida is still included in the official offshore drilling plan. Our coastline will not be safe until the Trump administration fully reverses course on this rash and ill-informed proposal,” said Alison Johnson, Oceana’s southeast campaign manager. “We commend all municipalities in the Keys for rejecting dangerous offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting. Giving the oil industry unfettered access to our nation’s oceans is a recipe for disaster.”

Johnson, a former marine biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, recalls conducting scuba surveys for oil after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil. “Although we were lucky in the Keys not to see oil washing up on our beaches, we still suffered millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue due to the threat of those impacts,” said Johnson.

Numerous fishing and tourism interests, including local chambers of commerce, tourism and restaurant associations, all three East Coast Fishery Management Councils, and an alliance representing over 42,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have all expressed concern or opposition to offshore drilling and exploration, citing threats to marine life, coastal communities and local economies. The Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, Florida Defense Support Task Force and NASA have also raised concerns that expanded offshore oil and gas development would threaten their ability to perform critical training and testing activities.

“In Florida alone, healthy oceans provide over 609,000 jobs and over $37 billion in annual GDP, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation,” added Johnson. “Oil spills do not respect state boundaries and Floridians will continue to stand up against expanded offshore drilling until the plug is pulled on this radical plan.”

For more information, please visit www.StopTheDrill.org.

Original story available at: https://usa.oceana.org/press-releases/municipalities-united-against-offshore-drilling-and-exploration-across-florida-keys

Florida Reps in U.S. House Seek to Retain Safety Rules Covering Offshore Drilling

Tampa bay reporter, June 28, 2018
Republican and Democrat representatives from Florida have banded together to ask that the Trump administration abandon its efforts to loosen safety rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg; Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota;  Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee; and Francis Rooney, R-Naples, are leading a bipartisan push to maintain offshore drilling safety rules.

Writing to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, 21 members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation voiced their strong opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed weakening of the Well Control Rule put in place after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Crist, Florida’s governor at the time of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, also introduced the Safe COAST Act (for related story, click here) earlier this year to codify what he called a common-sense safety rule.

The letter:

June 28, 2018

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Secretary, Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke,

We write today to express our strong opposition to proposed revisions to the Well Control Rule (FR 2018-109305), published in the Federal Register on May 11, 2018. This critical safety regulation was put into place at the recommendation of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to improve the safety of offshore drilling operations and prevent another tragedy from occurring. The Well Control Rule is a culmination of years of information gathering and engagement with the public, stakeholders, and industry.

As Floridians, we understand all too well the risks that offshore drilling poses to our environment and economy. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the lives of 11 workers, injured 17 others, and crippled our fishing and tourism industries. The full extent of the tragedy is still unknown; and we continue to feel the effects on our coastal communities, oceans, and marine life. Given the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, these safety regulations are more than warranted.

This proposal to weaken the Well Control Rule will not only risk lives, but could inflict devastating consequences on our environment and economy. Of particular concern are proposals to eliminate the requirement for third-party verification by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), remove real-time monitoring requirements, and allow companies to submit equipment failures anonymously through a third-party designee, effectively making that requirement voluntary.

The new proposal could also undermine additional safety measures that were adopted in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy by removing the federal government’s authority to regulate safe maximum or minimum drilling pressures at new sites. In fact, according to a report from Bloomberg, “the bureau (BSEE) isn’t completely ruling out changes to that drilling margin requirement. Instead, it is [bsee] inviting oil companies and other stakeholders to answer questions about how the standard is working during a 60-day public comment period.” The current drilling margin regulation requires offshore oil rigs to maintain a safe pressure for drilling in order to prevent surges and potential blowouts similar to what occurred in the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The weakening of these safety regulations is compounded by the Interior Department’s plans to dramatically expand offshore drilling in nearly all U.S. waters, including the South Atlantic, the Straits of Florida, and the still recovering Gulf of Mexico. This underscores the need for robust safety standards to protect our coasts from another needless accident.

We urge you to reverse course and leave all portions of the Well Control Rule in place. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Charlie Crist (FL-13) Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Darren Soto (FL-9) Francis Rooney (FL-19)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) Val Butler Demings (FL-10)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bill Posey (FL-8) Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Dennis A. Ross (FL-15) Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Stephanie Murphy (FL-7) Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Al Lawson (FL-5) Ted Deutch (FL-22)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

John Rutherford (FL-4) Lois Frankel (FL-21)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Brian J. Mast (FL-18)
Member of Congress

Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes mid- and south Pinellas County.

For information about Crist, got to crist.house.gov.”

Original story available at:  http://www.tbreporter.com/environment/florida-reps-u-s-house-seek-retain-safety-rules-covering-offshore-drilling/

Rep. Rooney: No Reason to Put Florida at Risk with Offshore Drilling

Pensacola News Journal, June 27, 2018
Rep. Francis Rooney, Guest Columnist

“The adverse consequences of offshore oil drilling to the tourist economy of Florida are well-known. One only needs to look back to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 to see consequences of a potential disaster. Even though the spill occurred off the coast of Louisiana, tourism on Florida’s west coast fell 14% in the following months. Further, a Harvard economist found that a net loss of 50,000 jobs occurred after the spill along Florida’s Gulf Coast south of the panhandle.

Resumption of leasing and potential exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico will exact a chilling effect on our tourist economy and stifle economic growth. It is neither fair nor acceptable to expose the west and north coasts of Florida to the risks presented by this activity.

Furthermore, drilling in the eastern Gulf is unnecessary. While economic arguments based on tourism are well known, a less discussed component of the debate over offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf is future of oil demand. By the time any production would begin on prospects in or after 2019, global demand for oil will likely have peaked.

Markets are evolving and the focus of American energy development is changing as well. As prices for alternative energy sources drop, due to new technology and market demand, reliance on petroleum will decline significantly. For example, according to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the cost of electricity generated from solar and wind sources fell almost 60% from 2010 to 2016. There is already a trend away from petroleum to alternatives, as the rise in popularity of electric cars illustrates.

Analysts are predicting, and energy companies are planning for, reaching peak oil demand within the next two decades. Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultant, predicts that oil demand will peak by 2030 at the latest, while Shell has a scenario reaching peak demand by the late 2020’s. Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, has already indicated that his company will adapt to the shifting markets, and the company plans to become a major player in the changing energy market.

There are also many land drilling prospects made economical by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking technologies. In the Permian Basin of west Texas, the Wolfcamp shale bed, just one of three of the developable beds in the area, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil.

This means that by the time necessary infrastructure, such as docks, pipelines, and tank farms, would have been built to support the supply vessels and barges which service offshore drilling, peak oil demand will likely have passed. Profits and job creation would be much lower than the American Petroleum Institute (API) predicts. API, and its Florida-based front, the Florida Petroleum Council, claim that offshore drilling in Florida would create 56,000 new jobs by 2035. Due to the occurrence of peak demand for oil, this prediction will never become a reality, and, if a disaster struck like Deepwater Horizon, the job losses would be catastrophic. It would be existential for Florida.

On the other hand, according to research by the University of Florida’s Sea Grant Program, ocean tourism and recreation is projected to create 268,000 new jobs over the next decade; tourism is a much better bet for Floridians than offshore drilling.

Florida’s livelihood depends on its environment and tourism, and, as a result, there is no place for offshore drilling here. With the changes foreseen in the oil industry, there is even less of a reason to put Florida at risk. We must prevent offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district. He is the Vice-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce.”

Original story available at:  https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2018/06/27/no-reason-put-florida-risk-offshore-drilling-guestview/737667002/

Join Us!

JOIN THE COALITION: PROTECT THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO

The Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition (FGCBC) seeks to serve as a business voice to protect the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The group was formed because offshore drilling the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is fundamentally at odds with our coastal economy and way of life. Offshore drilling is a threat to our thriving businesses that are reliant upon healthy ocean ecosystems, and it is incompatible with the military mission in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The FGCBC recognizes the importance of a unified business voice in protecting our coastal economies.

If you are interested in voicing your business’ opposition to offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, follow this  link to sign-up  and become a member of the coalition.

 

FGCBC Member Urges Congress to Protect Our Coast

Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition member and Chairman of the Treasure Island and Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce, Joseph Dise, advocates  for our members of Congress to oppose any offshore drilling activities in the currently protected areas off Florida’s Gulf Coast. #ProtectOurCoast
Tampa Bay Times | May 23
Florida, oil drilling don’t pair well
As a Gulf Coast businessman, I am firmly opposed to the shortsighted and dangerous push to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling.
The threat of this activity coming even closer to our shorelines recently became more likely. Florida’s members of Congress are being pressured to engage in behind-the-scenes negotiations to allow the eastern Gulf to be drilled for oil and gas. This pressure is coming from congressional leaders who have no real connection to our important coastline and beautiful beaches.
Florida’s Gulf Coast tourism, recreation and fishing industries support 304,556 jobs and generate $17.5 billion annually in GDP. This economic strength would plummet in the event of an oil spill. When people think of Florida, they think of beaches, seafood and boating. I’d prefer we keep it that way.
When the BP Deepwater Horizon exploded and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, tourism plunged even in places where oil never reached the beaches.
It is up to us to tell our representatives in Congress to oppose any offshore drilling activities in the currently protected areas off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Our voices matter and we don’t want loopholes that will allow industry to come in and drill. We don’t want it now and we don’t want it ever.
Joseph DiseTreasure Island
The writer is chairman of the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce.
 

BOEM Draft 5-Year Lease Plan

We are deeply saddened to report that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released their draft 5-year lease plan for 2019-2024. The proposal seeks to open 90% of offshore waters to oil and gas exploration, including the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, North, Atlantic, Straits of Florida, Pacific, and Arctic. We need your support in our fight to protect Florida’s Gulf coast from dirty, dangerous offshore drilling! Click here to learn more.

Here are two quick ways you can take action today!

1. Join our coalition:
Join the Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition to protect our coasts, economies, and jobs from expanded drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Click here to join!

2. Submit your comments:
We know the fight to stop new offshore drilling isn’t going to be easy, but with you help- we know we can win! BOEM has opened a 60-day public comment period to collect feedback from the public on the proposal. Please take a moment to submit your comments to BOEM.