Voters, beware. Florida faces a tough election season this year, with a lengthy ballot and multiple key federal, state and local positions up for grabs. Floridians will be inundated with information over the next few months, and it’s up to us to discern fact from fiction. We should support candidates who have Florida’s best interest in mind and will deliver on policy promises once in office.
In my mind, one of the most important factors to consider when making decisions at the ballot box is energy policy.
Despite the fear mongering and scare tactics used by radical environmentalists, oil and natural gas are essential to Floridians’ quality of life. We must support safe energy development for the good of all Americans, and this includes expansion of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) program to explore our resources offshore.
Radical environmentalists continue to focus on the supposed “dangers” offshore energy exploration poses to our state’s tourism economy and temporarily scuttled plans for seismic tests along Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coastlines. They don’t mention all the rules, regulations and safe modern engineering techniques in place to protect the environment.
Make no mistake about it, I care about the health of Florida’s coastal environment. However, unlike some on the other side of the political aisle, I also like to deal in truths. So, let’s start with the basics:
Seismic surveys, or the process by which pulsing sound waves gives us a view at the available resources beneath the ocean floor, is one of the safest and most reliable means of energy exploration available today. But don’t take my word for it. According to Dr. William Brown, chief environmental officer for the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, “there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities.”
In fact, these surveys are frequently used by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and the renewable energy industry. After more than 30 years, we would have noticed adverse events from seismic tests by now.
And, in terms of lifting up a struggling middle class, energy delivers. If given the green light, offshore energy exploration is projected to support more than 56,000 jobs in Florida -- at an average salary of $116,000 An additional $2.6 billion per year would also be spent by the energy companies directly benefitting Florida’s economy within 20 years.
As an American veteran, I must mention our men and women in uniform who are making many sacrifices overseas. Instead of keeping our troops stationed in some of the most hostile areas of the world protecting the energy infrastructure of volatile regimes, why don’t we secure our own energy future and bring them home? As long as our economy depends on oil and natural gas, it has to come from somewhere. That somewhere should be right here at home as we become energy independent by using all forms of energy.
The upcoming midterm election presents an opportunity for Floridians: Will our new elected officials listen to facts, or buckle under pressure from those who deal in misinformation? Only you can ultimately decide. Choose wisely.
Dennis O. Freytes is an American Veteran, member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame and the Florida chair for Vets4Energy.