Our leaders in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. have the opportunity to embrace offshore energy exploration – an opportunity they must not let pass by. Decades of federal policy decisions have blocked Florida from reaping the economic benefits of offshore natural gas and oil production, while those benefits flow freely into other states along the Gulf of Mexico who have seen offshore development flourish.
The natural gas and oil industry is constantly innovating, which allows it to becomes safer, smarter and minimize environmental footprints while finding new ways to produce high-quality energy resources for Americans to use. Just last week one of the energy companies announced the discovery of two new oil fields and of an additional billion barrels of oil at an existing field thanks to technological advancements. Such discoveries could become the norm if the additional areas in the Gulf are open to offshore operations. Prohibiting access to areas that could be a game-changer for local economy and communities does not benefit anyone, except foreign countries that compete with the U.S. on the energy market.
Opportunities for additional Gulf operations could have a profound benefit for Florida, the region, and the nation as a whole. Energy companies’ investments into the Florida economycould reach nearly $4.5 billion per year and create more than50,000 jobs. These numbers are significant. Politicians like to talk about economic growth, job creation and local community investment. Offshore natural gas and oil exploration is the real deal, and would have immediate and long-term benefits for Florida.
This is not some theoretical government program. This legitimate industry already operates in our part of the country to provide essential resources that power our nation’s economy. Natural gas and oil provide the energy that lets tourists drive toour beaches, amusement parks power their rides, hotels cool their rooms, and our state provide the top-notch experiences one expects when visiting Florida.
Unfortunately, many of our officials are trying to block any potential for offshore energy development. This should surprise no one who has followed Florida’s political scene for anynumber of years. Obstructionists make unsupported claims until the other side gets tired of playing. Florida’s future is on the line, and proponents of this incredible opportunity should hold the line.
Floridians will be thankful for the thousands of six-figure jobs the energy industry could bring as well as the billions in tax revenue the state could expect to see over time if there’s offshore natural gas and oil production in additional areas of the Gulf of Mexico. To our politicians in Washington D.C. and in Tallahassee: support safe exploration of our offshore resources and bring the state the growth it deserves to prosper.