The American Petroleum Institute (API) launched its “Explore Offshore” efforts on Wednesday, calling on expanding energy exploration efforts including in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico.
The national “Explore Offshore” campaign will be led by former U.S. Veterans Affairs Sec. Jim Nicholson, who led the Republican National Committee (RNC), and former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2016 election cycle.
Leading the “Explore Offshore” efforts in Florida are former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and Dr. Miriam Ramirez who served in the Senate of Puerto Rico. Kottkamp served under then Gov. Charlie Crist who has opposed drilling in the Gulf, even calling for a special legislative session on the issue. Crist held that special session after the massive oil spill in the Gulf in 2010. However, while Crist started drifting to the left and that and other issues to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010 with no party affiliation and eventually join the Democrats, Kottkamp has remained a conservative Republican.
“As a native Puerto Rican and a volunteer to rebuild Puerto Rico from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, I know firsthand that we should not take for granted access to reliable energy,” Ramirez said on Wednesday. “The Department of the Interior took a step in the right direction by proposing to open up additional areas of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to new exploration for oil and natural gas. Our neighbors in the Gulf of Mexico support thriving tourism industries all while developing offshore energy resources that create high-paying jobs to those states, provide much needed state revenue and economic investment, and deliver greater energy security to America.”
"With over 20 million residents and 110 million annual visitors---the availability of affordable energy is critical to our quality of life in Florida,” Kottkamp said. “Access to new sources of domestic oil and natural gas is important to maintain or quality of life in the Sunshine State. As we consider exploration for new energy sources we must also be mindful Florida's environment. We look forward to working with our local leaders to discuss ways to maintain our state's natural beauty while at the same time expanding opportunities to keep our nation energy independent."
Former Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris is also co-chairing the Explore Florida Offshore campaign.
“I’ve had the great honor of serving our country in the military for 27 years, and serving my county as a commissioner,” Harris said. “My focus is on ensuring that future generations get to enjoy the same opportunities that I have, in a nation that is safe and secure. A key to making that possible is putting in place energy policies that support the constant, reliable and affordable supply of energy our families and businesses will always need to grow and thrive. The more of that energy that comes from our own borders the better. It’s time we used recent advances in technology and science to find out exactly what energy resources lay in our waters, and how we can produce that energy in a responsible manner in the years ahead. That’s how we will make Florida and America more energy secure.”
Noting that oil and natural gas make up most electricity use at the state and national levels, Explore Offshore insisted that energy exploration in the Gulf and off the coast of Florida could lead to more than 56,000 new jobs by 2035 and added $1 billion annually to the state revenue and $2.6 billion in private development.