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Safe Offshore Energy Development Shouldn't Be a Victim of Theatrics

September 5, 2018 - 5:15pm

Chances are, you’ve noticed it’s election season. It seems everywhere we look another politician is inserting his or her opinion on the latest hot topic, whether it’s education, public safety and, of course, the environment. Offshore development continues to be a “hot potato” issue -- it seems no one wants to touch it, at least not publicly.

I’ve seen an interesting trend in which candidates, whether Republican or Democrat, are quick to denounce offshore development yet fail to touch on the policy aspect. Instead, it’s all about emotion. Politicians seem to buy right into the scare tactics used by radical environmentalists and forego scientific reason at the expense of our energy supply and economy.

I’m a proud blue-dog Democrat, so I can tell you offshore development is not a partisan issue. For me, the cornerstone of offshore development, or any safe form of energy development, is about affordable energy, which literally keeps our lights on. Not to mention offshore also keeps our friends, families and neighbors employed, our economy flourishing and our country secure. These are all talking points politicians typically love, so why is offshore different? It’s simple: fear mongering.

Those who push anti-drilling messages spread an alarmist rhetoric while avoiding rational policy discussions. You’d be surprised at the sheer volume of people who decry expansion of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) program but would not be able to explain what offshore actually does or what it really looks like. All offshore development means is companies extract oil deposits under the ocean floor. And, the oil reservoirs are identified by seismic surveys before development even begins.

These surveys have been proven safe for marine animals, as previously stated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s chief environmental officer.

Another point that seems to get lost in the OCS debate is this: there are not going to be any drilling rigs on our beaches. I know that is contrary to what we read in the media, but it’s true. I love the beach, and I don’t want to see any rigs on the sand, either. Fortunately, offshore development actually takes place many miles away from land and is rarely visible from the shore.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I did not point out the economic benefits as well. OCS expansion could add 56,000 jobs in Florida and contribute $4.5 billion to our state’s economy.

It’s not a popular opinion, but I’m proud to say it -- I support safe offshore development, and I’m not the only one. I recently joined a bipartisan coalition called Explore Offshore, an organization of supporters who appreciate energy’s importance to our economy and national security. Members range from current and former elected officials, small business owners, economic groups, minority organizations, veterans and other community leaders. Through education and discussions, we hope to dispel various myths surrounding offshore and instead focus on the numerous benefits.

I encourage Floridians to learn more about the coalition and consider signing up. Or, if you just want to talk policy, I’m all ears -- but please, let’s leave the theatrics out of the conversation.

Barney Bishop III, immediate past president of the Associated Industries of Florida and owner of a Florida consulting firm.


Mr. Bishop’s article fails to mention the critical importance of the military range located in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; the Eastern Gulf Test & Training Range (EGTTR). A May 2018 Pentagon report states that the EGTTR is “an irreplaceable national asset. No other area offers the DoD a comparable combination of air space, water space and existing infrastructure to support military activities.” Multiple military services, installations, and government entities utilize the EGTTR with the goal of national security. Oil drilling and exploration in the EGTTR are NOT compatible with military weapons test and training. The Military Mission Line is a federal moratorium established in the 1980’s prohibiting oil drilling and related activities in the eastern Gulf. Mr. Bishop cites a “potential impact of 56,000 (new) jobs and $2.6 billion in annual revenue” if the EGTTR was opened up to drilling. Mr. Bishop’s article fails to identify the 2017 Florida Defense Factbook stating that Northwest Florida’s annual military economic impact is currently over $22 billion and more than 183,000 jobs. Should the eastern Gulf be opened to oil drilling & exploration, tens of thousands of existing well paying Northwest Florida jobs and $ billions in economic benefit will be at risk because current weapons testing will have to be done somewhere else. While there is agreement to support America’s goal to become energy independent, it should not have to come at the expense of our national defense. Ask your legislators to support the permanent extension of the current drilling moratorium.

Should the Eastern Gulf Test & Training Range be opened up to drilling, we will be placing the current military mission in the Gulf at risk because weapons testing is not compatible with oil drilling. The article overlooks the fact that the Eglin AFB economic impact annually is over $9.0 billion and 72,000 jobs. While we should all support the goal of energy independence, it should not be at the expense of our national defense needs and Florida's economy. The current drilling moratorium in the Eastern Gulf needs to be extended permanently.

I keep asking the question but this group will not or cannot answer...."Please detail where these 56,000 jobs are going to happen? Are you and your fellow paid cronies expecting to build refineries along the coast? We take the risk and Louisiana and Texas get the jobs."

Mr. Bishop, Have you ever been to Bakersfield, CA. Lovely place except for the off-shore oil rigs and platforms. I was stunned the first time I saw it and it remains such a blight. You grew up in Miami. Surely you do not want this for our hometown or state. We need to be moving towards alternative fuels and future dependence on oil. Please remember the pristine nature of old Miami and use your considerable influence to preserve that vision for the future of all of Florida.;_ylt=A0geK9.4S5FbMSUAasYPxQt.?p=off+short+oil+drilling+in+Bakerfield%2C+CA&fr=yhs-pty-pty_email&fr2=piv-web&hspart=pty&hsimp=yhs-pty_email&type=em_appfocus1_ff#id=150&

Barbara, Bakersfield, California is located in landlocked Kern County. There are no offshore oil rigs and platforms there. Bakersfield is, however, commonly and proudly known as the oil capital of California. So, yes, there are a lot of dereks and pumpjacks in the oil fields. The petroleum industry provides jobs for about 15,000 people in the county, most of whom live in Bakersfield. All told, Kern County produces 66% of the oil in California, about 10% of the U.S. oil supply, and approximately 1% of the world's total oil production. Where would you prefer California to get its oil from?

Thank you. You raise important and worthwhile points to consider. I did see off-shore rigs and endless dereks and pumpjacks as I drove down the coast (years apart with same result.) It was so awful. Economic factors certainly cannot be easily dismissed and I thank you for raising the point. However, we now have the technology and opportunity to begin to move away from our oil dependency. I would so much rather we use our money, energy and efforts in exploring those alternative opportunities. As important as the economic benefits have been to California, I would suggest Florida not repeat that approach when we have the choice to be a leading alternative energy state instead. Thanks

Fugeddaboudit! No offshore oil exploration or drilling. There's W-A-Y more than enough opportunity in Florida to reduce fossil fuel use with the development of consumer-based solar and off-shore wind.

Please detail where these 56,000 jobs are going to happen? Are you and your fellow paid cronies expecting to build refineries along the coast? Get real----we take the risk and Louisiana and Texas get the jobs.

Barney, you are selling that same old recycled Koch Bro's/Heritage Foundation/API crap - the only thing they "recycle". Offshore drilling is dangerous, hazardous to the marine environment in the extreme, and is bad news to Florida and the Atlantic coast.

How low can you go Barney?...………….After all their screaming big oil got the best patch, lease 181 12? yrs ago and they still haven't drilled a single well there...……..Florida's geology just does hold oil well or have the deltas, , etc needed to make oil...…………..So what we have are tiny amounts not worth doing as so small. …………..Nor do w need it. ……………. RE is now cheaper than oil, NG and in 20 yrs we'll all be on clean power for 50% as much and EVs that only need 15% of the oil/mile energy a gas car needs...………….Florida is great for solar as power demand is in step with the sun...……….. If it's cloudy, you don't need as much A/C, our peak load...………..This means you need little battery, backup generator to be offgrid at about $.05/kwh making your own.

What are you trying to sell Barney? We all know that your credibility is zero, you will push anything that writes you a check.

I touch on offshore drilling EVERY time I hear the words... I'm RED as they come, and yes, spent also 10 years in the oil patch. It really comes down to LEAVE THE GULF OF MEXICO ~O~U~T~!~. Nothing against other tries at energy, or exploring far, far away (for IMMEDIACY only). Solar is still version 1.0.... we need some breakthrough technology to make it real Works all day, (store in HUGE Batteries when dark). Seems most folks are scared by Nuke power - man is STILL not 'smart enough' to make it foolproof. Coal, clean stuff will work for a couple of decades more - then it's gone (Just like Oil & Gas). What's left? OCEAN WAVES and TIDES! All over the place! A new breed of Hydro-Electric... so far, they haven't really given it a go, but LARGE floats can power "Captured MOVEMENT", easy enough to run Huge generators. How about "Float Farms"? Just an idea that has NOT been seriously tried.

Mr Purple Dinosaur, Let me ask you one question, "Do you remember the first time you sold out?"

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