Sunday, September 25, 2011

Risks Outweigh Benefits of Drilling

Map of Florida State Waters. Click to Enlarge.
As the debate continues over the potential of allowing offshore drilling in Florida's state-controlled waters, which extend 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and 10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, it is important that the public be made aware of not only the environmental consequences of offshore drilling, but also potential economic implications.

These pocketbook issues tend to be a driving force behind voter opinion on the subject, so it is important for us to ensure the public is well-informed. Here we have laid out some of the basic facts about Florida's economy as well as the economic potential (both 'positive' and negative) from allowing drilling rigs near our shores.

Based on these findings, we can say with absolute confidence that the risk of damaging Florida's tourism and fisheries far outweighs any value that could be gained by lifting the current moratorium banning exploration and drilling in our state waters.

Florida's Tourism Industry:

Tourism brings in nearly $60 billion to Florida each year, which amounts to $3.4 billion in state tax revenues, and directly employs over 900,000 people. It is the state's largest employer1

• If Gulf Coast counties lost just 10 percent of their tourism and leisure jobs and spending, the estimated losses would be 39,000 jobs and $2.2 billion. If that number is increased to 50%, 195,000 Florida jobs would be eliminated and $10.9 billion lost – and that's just in the Florida Panhandle2

Florida's Fishing Industry:

• Florida is the nation's number one spot for sports fishing, attracting nearly 3 million anglers and accounting for nearly $5 billion in revenue annually3

• Commercial fishing off Florida's coasts generates over $6 billion annually and directly supports nearly 20,000 jobs3

Potential Economic Benefits from Offshore Drilling:

There are an estimated 236 million barrels of oil and oil equivalents in Florida's state-controlled waters, according to a study commissioned by the Florida Legislature and conducted by the Collins Center for Public Policy4

• Global oil usage is approximately 86 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration5 Based on that number, Florida's total oil and gas resources amount to little more than a 3 day supply (236 million/86 million).

• The United States uses over 20.8 million barrels of oil per day, while Florida uses nearly 360 million barrels of oil each year6 That means Florida's offshore oil and gas resources amount to only 11 days worth of oil nationally and less than a year's worth of oil supply to the state (assuming 100% of the oil came to the state, which is impossible since oil is an internationally traded commodity and there is no state-owned oil company).

• Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama combined bring in between $300-500 million from offshore drilling each year, and the total number of direct offshore drilling jobs comes to just under 12,500 for the entire Gulf of Mexico5 Florida could only expect to see a fraction of that number if we allowed rigs off our shores.


2 University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness.
5 U.S. Energy Information Administration.
6 National Priorities Project Database.

Picture Credit: Collins Center