Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't "Rig" Florida's Future

Our Coastal Environment in Trouble:
The Florida coastal environment is a very complex mosaic of seagrasses, wetlands, bays, estuary systems, beaches and dunes. Offshore drilling would destroy this fragile ecosystem.

Consider the following:

  • Offshore drilling activities lead to the destruction of coastal wetlands. In Louisiana, where oil and gas development has been conducted for 50 years, close to 62 square miles of wetlands are lost each year.
  • The pollution from offshore rigs causes a wide range of health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life.
  • "Routine" offshore drilling operations dump thousands of pounds of drilling muds into the ocean -- muds that contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, chromium and mercury.
  • A single production platform can drill 50-100 wells and discharges tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean.
  • A single exploratory dumps approximately 25,000 pounds of toxic metals into the ocean.
  • A single offshore rig emits the same quantity of air pollution as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles per day.
Additionally, each drilling platform off our shores would legally dump over 90,000 tons of heavy metals, muds and toxic chemicals into our waters. This pollution from drilling would cause health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life.

Oil Lobbyists are Bidding on Our Future.

The petroleum industry is aggressively promoting offshore drilling along the Florida coast, pushing legislation that threatens our world famous coasts. Incredibly, some members of our congressional delegation have supported legislation that would promote drilling as close as 3 miles from Florida’s beaches and undermine Florida’s existing protections, including a bill that would repeal the moratorium against new drilling leases that has been in place since the 1980s. Florida’s congressional delegation has stood together against offshore drilling in the past. We need our delegation to stand united again in defense of our coast.

Both Sides Agree: Drilling is Risky Business.

In a recent forum held jointly by Gannet and the Florida State University,  representatives from both sides of the aisle on the debate had a chance to openly discuss what drilling would mean for Florida's future. They were in agreement on these five points:

  • Nearshore drilling is a guaranteed risk.

  • Nearshore drilling in Florida will NOT significantly affect the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.

  • Nearshore drilling will NOT significantly affect gas prices in Florida.

  • There is no guarantee that oil exploration will increase revenue to the state.

  • Nearshore drilling, even if the the ban is lifted after this upcoming session, will not positively affect Florida’s budget for years.
There are Better Options.

  • Increasing the average U.S. auto efficiency to 40 miles per gallon would save 10 times the estimated oil and gas reserves off Florida by the year 2020.

  • Improving home insulation across the country would save about five times the estimated reserves off the Florida coast by 2020.