Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ban Offshore Drilling

Right now, the petroleum industry is aggressively promoting offshore drilling along the Florida coast, pushing legislation that threatens our world famous beaches. Incredibly, some members of our congressional delegation have supported legislation that would promote drilling just 3 miles from Florida’s shoreline and undermine existing protections, including a bill that would repeal the moratorium against new drilling leases that has been in place since the 1980s.
Drilling is Risky Business.
At each stage of testing, exploration, and production, the oil and gas business produces contaminated water, uses toxic drilling muds, and periodically spills oil and toxic liquids into the ocean. Pollutants like mercury and persistent hydrocarbons contaminate fish and sea life near platforms and massive spills kill seabirds, sea turtles, fish and marine mammals. 
A few years ago, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed over 100 drilling rigs and platforms and over 450 pipelines. The Coast Guard documented an estimated nine million gallons from onshore and offshore oil facilities were spilled. 
In August of 2009, a two-year old rig touted by the oil industry and their lobbyists as "the future of oil and gas exploration" ruptured and caused a massive nine million gallon leak off Australia's pristine Kimberly coastline. The West Atlas rig spewed oil into one of the ocean's busiest migratory routes for 73 days before finally being capped.
And on April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore platform exploded and caught fire, beginning an environmental, economic, and human tragedy. Upwards of two hundred million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf, devastating lives, despoiling beaches and marsh lands, and putting endangered sea turtles, whales and many other marine animals at great risk.
A Constitutional Ban is Necessary.
The oil lobby would like us to believe that we can drill our way out of our state's energy problems. We're not buying it. Opening our shores to drilling would only put our beaches and coastal waters at great risk for a small, short-term supply of oil and gas. 
State and federal leaders know this, but they're facing enormous pressure to take action against rising energy prices. Caving in to the oil lobby would give them a chance to appear strong and decisive. Unfortunately for us, though, we'd still face a long-term energy crisis while our environment and economy would face new risks due to the pollution and potential for catastrophic spills off our coast.
The current ban on offshore drilling in Florida state waters is just one single legislative session away from being overturned. In 2009, the Florida House of Representatives voted to allow drilling next to Florida's beaches. Fortunately, that bill was stopped in the Senate. In July of 2010, at a special session of the Florida Legislature, representatives scoffed at the idea of allowing the citizens of the state to be allowed to vote on the issue.
In light of this, we have helped to assemble a statewide coalition of organizations working to put the issue of drilling on the ballot in 2012. 
We Need Your Help.
Help us in our call to stop offshore drilling and oil exploration from becoming a reality off Florida's coasts. Here are some things you can do:
Become a Member. We need funding and support to run our campaigns and to organize citizens across the state. Click here to find out how.
Sign the petition. The coalition will need approximately 700,000 verified petitions. We have until February of 2012 to hand in all of our signatures. Please print out a copy and mail it in to us. If you can help spread the word and get others involved, please do so!


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