By Barney Bishop
Yup, that’s right, oil drilling will begin this year off of Florida’s coast. Surprised? I’d imagine so. How could something like this happen? Haven’t we seen years of elected officials introducing and passing bills and resolutions to stop this travesty? How will Florida’s military training and tourism industries survive?
How could this happen?
What if I told you that this whole scenario was being advanced by leaders of a state whose economy is more dependent than Florida’s on pristine beaches and tourism.
For years, anti-energy activists have warned about the unacceptable risks of oil drilling off of our coasts. The risks to tourism, the risks to the military, the risks to the climate, the risks to civilization as we know it…all while globetrotting on private aircraft that use fossil fuels.
And before this starts up, let’s be clear, President Trump has nothing to do with this.
That’s because it is not a state or the federal government that is doing this; it is a country: the Bahamas. And the drilling? It is actually off of Florida’s East Coast.
Fun fact: Florida has complete control of whether oil and gas development takes place on its Atlantic Coast – out to three whole miles.
You see, back in 2006 when the current restrictions on oil and gas development were passed by Congress, they did not include additional restrictions for development in the Straits of Florida or Florida’s Atlantic Coast. And while some folks say there is no interest in these areas, exploratory activities offshore in Cuba and now in the Bahamas say otherwise.
So what proposals are being advocated for by some in Florida’s congressional delegation? The proposals are written to stop any development…in the Gulf of Mexico…again.
Even though exploration drilling is set to commence near the state’s East Coast this year and not the Gulf coast.
The current restrictions in the Gulf evaporate during the summer of 2022 when the Gulf Coast of Florida will control all activities out to nine miles. While that is a considerable reduction from the current restrictions, it is still three times more distance than enjoyed by the Atlantic Coast or the Straits.
But look, I am not opposed to American offshore oil and gas drilling. I quite frankly enjoy the fact that we are putting the screws to OPEC, Iran, Russia, and the socialists in Venezuela. And, like most people, I know it can be done safely with proper regulations and oversight. But, I don’t want to see it from the beach, this year, next year or ever.
And if we got some of those revenues back to our state for beach renourishment or to pay our teachers a little better, I am all for that as well.
For any of that to occur, our enlightened elected leaders need to get something done and at least appear to be aware of where drilling is occurring.
Just in case you’re still confused, it’s offshore in the Bahamas.
There, I have done my civic duty and provided some insights on reality and geography. I could go on, but a private jet is waiting to whisk me and two of my friends off to attend a climate change conference halfway around the world.
Where I am sure, we will determine beyond a reasonable doubt what everyone else needs to sacrifice to address the world’s most pressing problems.
Barney Bishop III, former Florida Democratic Party Executive Director, immediate past President & CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, and President & CEO of Barney Bishop Consulting, LLC in Tallahassee. He can be reached at [email protected]