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Politics

New Energy Opportunities for Florida’s Future

August 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

Affordable and reliable energy will be an essential part of Floridas economic recovery.

Floridians consume about 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel each and every day and generate more than 50 percent of electricity from natural gas. In addition to the day-to-day consumption to air-conditioning our homes and businesses and to drive to work or the grocery stores, Floridas two largest industries --tourism and agriculture -- are almost completely reliant on energy supplies.

Global energy demand is projected to increase 45 percent by 2035, so we all have a vested interest in our energy future. With the right policy choices, the oil and natural gas industry is prepared to drive the economy in the right direction with energy security, additional jobs, and increased government revenues.

Technology advances have re-established the United States as an energy-rich nation. In fact, American and Canadian oil supplies, coupled with increased biofuels development, could provide 100 percent of U.S. liquid fuel needs within 15 years.

For example, hydraulic fracturing combined with directional drilling has propelled North Dakota into the third largest state producer of oil and has unlocked unprecedented natural gas supplies from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania.Record domestic oil and natural gas production has pushed our dependence on foreign oil below 50 percent for the first time in decades.Amazingly, these supply advances are occurring despite increasingly restrictive state and federal policies limiting exploration and production on state and federal lands.

Many of these same technologies have also revitalized oil field production in South and Northeast Florida, and opportunities exist to expand production to more of Floridas energy resources. For example, Destin Dome is an area about 30 miles south of Pensacola that exploration has confirmed to hold about 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas enough gas to power Tallahassee for over 130 years.

Yet, state and federal policies have placed this resource and others in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and in state waters off-limits. Additional opportunities, such as the construction of a terminal in Walnut Hill, Fla., that will temporarily store oil produced in the Bakken formation for delivery to Gulf refineries via pipeline, provide opportunities for Florida to participate in domestic energy growth.A few weeks ago, more than 800 people lined up for new, high-paying jobs at the terminal in this small, Northwest Florida town.

New oil and natural gas production is providing more benefits than just energy security for the states. While Florida and most other states have struggled with budget shortfalls and double-digit unemployment, North Dakotas 3 percent unemployment and bulging government surpluses over the past four years were directly attributable to oil company activity in the state.

Similarly, Pennsylvania has benefited from 177,000 jobs over the past two years resulting from natural gas development. The benefits extend beyond state boundaries, as well.In fact, the oil and natural gas industry pays $86 million per day in federal revenues, or about $31 billion a year, in rents, royalties, bonuses and corporate taxes. On top of these payments, the industry directly contributed an estimated $470 billion to the U.S. economy in spending, wages and dividends -- an economic stimulus that occurs every year without an act of Congress.

Floridians have a vested interest in policies promoting energy security, job growth, and increased government revenues.It is time we use our voice to change state and national energy policies to increase domestic oil and natural gas supplies starting right here in Florida.

America needs leadership to bring long-term energy supply and stability to the marketplace, and Floridians can participate in electing this leadership. We have created Vote4Energy.org to help citizens learn the energy policies necessary for a robust economic recovery.We encourage you to take the time to explore the website and to Vote For Energy.

David Mica is the Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council.

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