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Offshore Drilling Can Peacefully Co-Exist with Military Operations

May 29, 2018 - 5:00pm

Discussions surrounding offshore drilling continue to intensify as the Trump administration considers plans to expand the national Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) program. 

Unfortunately, fear-mongering continues to be evident, and the latest case is news coverage surrounding a recent report released by the Pentagon. Some news articles may lead you to believe that the report indicates resistance from the Department of Defense (DOD) against drilling; however when one actually reads the report, it is evident the DOD is ready and willing to collaborate with the oil and natural gas industry so long as offshore exploration does not interfere with military operations. 

This should be viewed as a positive step forward for the industry and a reaffirmed commitment that energy production and military training can peacefully co-exist. Safe seismic testing and offshore energy exploration continues to be one of the best ways to keep our nation secure while fulfilling our American citizens’ energy needs, all the while strengthening our economy.

It is undeniable that our country relies on energy. Nearly every moment of every day, from alarm clocks waking us up in the morning and washing our clothes, to driving to work and charging our cell phones. Energy also helps fuel important industries such as medicine, manufacturing, agriculture and even the arts. Despite our ever-increasing energy needs, our country continues to rely on foreign countries for our oil and natural gas supply. 

As a veteran of war, I can tell you that America will never be entirely secure unless it is energy independent. Already, countries like Russia and China have advanced in independence due to their exploration in offshore drilling. Historically the U.S. has been a leader in development but may face a global disadvantage if dependence on other countries for energy resources continues.

Contrary to opposing claims, offshore drilling comes with many benefits and can occur simultaneously with military training without hindering the progressive development of each. The more natural gas sourced, the higher the air quality yielded for America’s coastal communities. New advances in technology ensure that marine animals would not be negatively affected by drilling. 

Offshore drilling provides a way to achieve independence from other nations and will create an estimated 56,000 new jobs for Florida’s residents. In addition to new jobs, developing energy resources offshore could bring in $2.6 billion in state revenue every year.

If we depend on other countries for energy our national security is weakened. Drilling that occurs within proper regulations will benefit our nation’s military and advance security within the U.S. The benefits of offshore drilling simply cannot be denied.

Here in Florida, we will see Amendment 9 on the ballot this November. This amendment would constitutionally ban offshore drilling off state waters, and is duplicative and unnecessary, especially because a federal moratorium already exists. It is imperative to also consider the permanency of the constitution – when innovation happens daily in the energy industry, it does not make sense to ban a key oil development method when we do not know what the future holds. 

I encourage Floridians to use resources such as Vets4Energy or the Florida Energy Forum to learn more about offshore energy exploration. It is in our best interest as citizens to be responsible, educated voters leading up to the November election to ensure Florida’s energy future continues to shine bright. A reliable energy supply is the best way to protect Florida’s future for generations to come.

Mark Alvarez is a retired U.S. Army veteran and a member of Vets4Energy Florida.

 


READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS

Charlie Crist Continues His Fight Against Offshore Drilling

Bill Nelson: I Always Opposed Offshore Drilling ... Uh, Except When I Didn't

Comments

There was a lesson that should have been learned from the BP blowout. No drilling in or near Florida. Why risk our beaches or our drinking water for oil and gas we don't need? There are sufficient reserves to last years without risking damage in or to our state.

As the manager of a tri-county military advocacy group located in Northwest Florida, I will focus my comments and observations as they pertain to the military mission. While there can be agreement that energy independence is important, the critical question posed is “At what cost?” In a May 09, 2018 letter, the Under Secretary of Defense wrote “The eastern Gulf of Mexico continues to be a strategic national asset critical to the lethality of our weapon systems and the readiness of our Service members; hence it is a vital component to harnessing the power of the advanced technologies required to support our National Defense Strategy.” The Pentagon report (Preserving Military Readiness in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico) referenced in the article above states, “The EGOMEX (eastern Gulf of Mexico) is an irreplaceable national asset. No other area offers the DoD (Department of Defense) a comparable combination of air space, water space, and existing infrastructure to support military activities.” The military Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range (EGTTR) connects test & training capabilities across the eastern Gulf of Mexico extending from Key West to NW Florida. The EGTTR supports multiple users, which include DoD, other government agencies, foreign countries, and private companies—all with the goal of protecting our freedoms. Eglin Air Force Base, located in Okaloosa County, manages and utilizes the eastern Gulf Test and Training Range. The article above sites a potential economic impact resulting from drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as 56,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in annual revenue. The December 2017 Florida Defense Factbook sites Eglin Air Force Base’s impact as over $9 billion and over 72,000 jobs. That economic impact would be at risk, not to mention our national security, if drilling and related activities were allowed in the EGOMEX. The article above references a federal moratorium that constitutionally bans offshore drilling. What is not shared in the article is that that moratorium expires in 2022. Hence, the importance of the referenced Amendment 9; as well as permanent sustainment of the Military Mission Line (MML) moratorium. The MML was established to restrict oil and natural gas drilling and exploration in the eastern Gulf where the military range exists. In April 2017, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense stated “The DoD cannot overstate the vital importance of maintaining this moratorium.” Oil drilling structures and associated exploratory activities east of the MML would be incompatible with military activities, negatively impact our military’s readiness and compromise our nation’s military superiority. It is critically important to maintain relevant military training ranges in order to simulate anticipated threat environments today and for the coming decades. The EGOMEX is a critical component to that capability. The MML needs to be permanently sustained to protect the EGOMEX thereby protecting our nation’s security and our men and women that are fighting the fight for all of us.

As a former Air Combat Command Unit Commander and Director of the Air Force Research Lab at Eglin responsible for Weapons Testing in the Gulf Range Airspace, I can only humbly attest to the importance of the Military Mission Line (MML) that protects critical DoD weapon system testing for Air Combat Command & Air Force Materiel Command. This line ensures deconfliction from drilling that occurs now to the west of the MML. Testing in the Gulf Range Airspace and the ability to 'clear' large areas rapidly in a safe manner is essential to the success of these tests and the assurance of capability improvements for the Weapon Systems that ensure the security of our nation. The incursion of new rigs into the area east of the MML which is essential to our national security would complicate and prevent the military mission of this testing. Weapons are becoming more complex with increased range airpsace that require large areas below them to be 'sanitized' so as to ensure the effectiveness of the test and the safety of our citizens. I highly encourage the V4E to fully understand the criticality, complexities and challenges of the military mission in the gulf range airspace and to support our DoD in this endeavor. As the Defense Support Initiative Chairman, I would like to invite the V4E to visit the DSI for a briefing and discussions on the essential need for the Gulf Range Airspace for our newest and most needed weapon systems and tests and why the MML is so critically important for successful mission employment for Eglin & Tyndall Air Force bases and the two major commands.

And, another thought is that the 'economic impact' the two Air Force bases bring to Florida is many billions of dollars. Loss of the Air Weapons test mission in the Gulf Range Airspace would lose thousands of jobs and a huge economic benefit to the area.

If you think (based upon your expertise) that "weapons testing" has and/or is evolving into a more dangerous condition, then maybe "live fire" 'practice' should be moved offshore AT SEA... and, maybe that type of testing should be left to the NAVY exclusively if you think the AF is incapable of dealing with the "situation".... Just saying... maybe we could SAVE those "many billions of dollars" that you think Florida will "risk dying to get"...

There is no 'situation' now as is. Drilling rigs would cause a degradation of the quality of test and increase dramatically the cost of testing. There is no 'dangerous situation' because the services take great care in ensuring the safety of testing.

First, let me thank Mark for his Army service. He probably knows more than I ever can about how Army units work on the ground, but his comments about training in the Gulf are misleading. Next let me say that I am an Air Force veteran with over 40 years experience in flying (both military and civilian), mostly high performance fighter aircraft, over 30 years in flight and ground test experience with much of it involved in testing weapons, and have used the Gulf Ranges for both training and testing of air armament and munitions. Mr. Alvarez is correct that training with simulated weapons employment is compatible with most other uses of the Gulf Ranges. However, the primary purpose of Eglin Air Force Base and the ranges it is responsible for in Eastern Gulf of Mexico is for the development of new weapons and the testing of live weapons and munitions. And these same ranges are used by all of our military services and many of our allied nations to test live weapons. Employing live weapons, especially those that are developmental in nature, is INCOMPATIBLE with oil and gas exploration and production. Public safety is paramount and that includes those people associated with the oil industry. The report from Dr. Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, clearly lays out the reasons why. This is a matter of national security to keep our technological lead in air armament and to provide our warriors with the best tools to win when placed into harms way. We use the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for air armament and munitions testing to ensure our technology lead stays and because there are few obstacles to doing testing there. We do not test live weapons in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico due in large part to the oil industry having so many structures in those regions. It should be obvious that live weapons and oil/gas production are incompatible.

Your 40 years of experience "Jim", may well be outdated... by 40 years ! Florida's 'development' in the past 40 years has made it the third most populace State in the Nation..... Don't you think it's time to develop a NEW "live fire" Range for your improved armament weapons and munitions, and remove those dangers from Florida's waters sooner rather than later?!?!? (Back to the Pentagon "drawing Board" Generals & Admirals....while there's still time to plan...)

End our dependence on oil and gas. Renewable energy is the future. We don't need any more holes drilled into our planet. We live in the SUNSHINE state. Why isn't SOLAR be used to power our states electric grid.

More oil industry promotionals. It never will stop until we vote for Amendment 9. Here is a good discussion of the military and national security issues - not to say the environmental consequences of offshore drilling off Florida coastlines. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-oil-florida/u-s-military-seeks-rules-for-drilling-in-eastern-gulf-of-mexico-idUSKBN1IB377

Europe, and their "EU" 'media stooges' (including Reuters) ALWAYS like to tell Americans how they "SHOULD" live (until we endlessly have to go and "pull their azzez out of the flames"...) The United States has ALWAYS been self-sufficient (It's who we are) with the natural resources to forever sustain ourselves.... Even William Seward (former Secretary of State) recognized THAT when he purchased Alaska (from the Russians tsk, tsk) with its boundless natural resources for America's security...! ONLY whining Democrats, and their ilk, can screw up a Country, a State, a County, a town, and krap all over our freedoms and resources.... and "bring in" ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS to help them destroy our Constitution, our culture and our security... VOTE THEM OUT...before it's too late ! ! !

This from the shrill voice who can't decide whether he's a life-long Democrat . . . . . . . . or only joined to vote against Hillary in the primaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . racist as always . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . . .

Charlie "The Tuna" Crist & "Zippy the ride-along-rocketeer" will say and support ANYTHING they believe "leans toward the politically correct side", and will even "beat the "BP drum" again and recall the "oil dipped ducks" in order to overcome reason. The rest of us agree with your National security, common sense view; WE just don't want to see the likes of Crist & Obama in their shiny pumps with their shirtsleeves rolled up (like they worked for a living) trudging across the beach [Were they holding hands?] looking all seriously for a media "photo shoot" AGAIN, but not too far from their attended air conditioned Yukons ! {Talk to Trump,.. he "gets it"; National Security is EVERYTHING!!! Without THAT, all our "Illegal Alien Invaders" will be crossing back over the "Rio Grande" and heading South...with their extended families in tow...}

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