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.

Here we go again…

Just a year ago voices across the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Arctic coasts came together to oppose expended offshore drilling. After substantial public opposition, the proposal, which initially included new areas in the Arctic and nearly the entire mid and south Atlantic regions, was scrapped. It was a huge victory for coastal communities and the economies they rely on.

Unfortunately, on June 29, President Trump annoucned a public comment period for a new 5-year National Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). At this early stage in the planning process, all areas are on the table: the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean. A 45-day comment period is now open until August 17th for the public to provide initial input on the administration’s plans. After this comment period closes, BOEM will prepare a Draft Proposed Program, followed by a Proposed Program and a Proposed Final Program.

Please let BOEM know that Florida’s coasts are simply to valuable to jeopardize to offshore drilling. Click here to view a fact sheet on why oil and Florida don’t mix.

To comment, visit: https://www.boem.gov/Public-Engagement-Opportunities/ Open the “Open Comment Document” link and follow instructions to view relevant documents and submit comments.