Oil drilling no way to fuel recovery
April 22, 2009
The effort to open up Florida's waters
to oil drilling illustrates how ill-equipped the legislative leadership is to rebuild the state's economy.
The same lawmakers who believe an overbuilt state with a backlog of unsold homes needs to eliminate
development controls also think that allowing oil rigs to crowd close to Florida's beaches will ease its
It is a dangerous pipedream, one that could ruin Florida's economy and coastal waters.
The drilling - which requires the use of heavy metal, toxic metals and polluting muds - would not
occur far offshore in federal waters, where perhaps a case can be made for additional drilling.
This legislation applies to state-controlled waters from three to 10 miles offshore. It would be
possible for rigs to operate within sight of shore.
Supporters say new technologies minimize the
visual disruption and pollution threat. Perhaps. But drilling immediately offshore provides the state no
margin of error when the inevitable accident occurs.
Yet Rep. Dean Cannon, an Orlando Republican
scheduled to become House speaker next year, thinks this would benefit a state whose clean waters and
sandy beaches underpin its appeal and sustain a $65-billion-a-year tourism industry that employs 1
Under the proposal the governor and members of the Cabinet would vote on oil
companies' exploration requests. The companies would have to post a $500 million bond. It is being pushed
hard by the oil industry and affiliated special interests. A House panel approved it Tuesday.
misguided effort was abruptly launched in the final weeks of the session, revealing a stunning disregard
for the need to carefully scrutinize a change with such dramatic impacts.
Even more alarming is
how this scheme shows legislative leaders are looking to the past rather than trying to seize new economic
President Barack Obama's administration clearly is going to emphasize clean, renewable
energy and seek to reduce the nation's dependence on oil. Just last week the U.S Environmental Protection
Agency signaled it would eventually use the Clean Air Act to limit the use of greenhouse gases.
does not have to accept the doomsayers' warnings about climate change to recognize the nation's energy
dynamics will change.
And the transition to clean domestically produced energy sources is expected
to create millions of American jobs and make the nation more energy independent. Florida has the potential
to generate energy and jobs from biomass, solar, wind and waves.
Yet the same House leadership that
would put Florida's beaches at risk has refused to consider reasonable legislation that would help boost
investment in renewables.
The measure, as fashioned by the Senate, would require electric utilities
to obtain 20 percent of their power from clean energy by 2020. It is not overly burdensome. It even allows
clean coal technology and nuclear to be counted toward that renewable energy target.
besides assuring Florida a cleaner energy supply, would ignite investment in homegrown industries.
Instead of looking for ways to build an economy - and energy industry - for the future, the House
simply seeks to turn the Florida coast over to Big Oil. That won't produce many jobs. It won't revive the
economy. And it could forever taint Florida's coastal waters.
But it will please powerful special
interests - and that appears to be what counts the most in the state House.
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