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Continue Smart Energy Policy for the Sunshine State and Our Nation

January 12, 2018 - 10:45am

Florida’s business community has a lot to look forward to this year, including the energy industry and the major economic growth it continues to produce.

Last year brought its challenges, particularly Hurricane Irma’s hard-hitting impact on Florida. Energy infrastructure played a crucial role in restoring power and rebuilding damaged communities. Florida also welcomed millions of Puerto Ricans seeking shelter from Hurricane Maria’s devastation to their communities, which is why it is more important than ever to ensure our state is energy secure.

Fortunately, last year also provided new opportunities. The new administration passed a sweeping tax reform package, promising more money in Americans’ paychecks while setting the stage for future energy innovation and growth. 

Earlier this week, American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard issued his annual “State of American Energy” report. It is an exciting time for the energy industry and the business community as a whole, because America is currently in a position of global leadership when it comes to energy production.

According to projected statistics, nearly 2 million job opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry will be created by 2035. What’s even more exciting is that nearly 40 percent of those positions will likely be filled by women and minorities, such as Hispanics and African-Americans. And, the oil and natural gas industry offer salaries almost $50,000 more than the national average.

Currently, Florida consumes 27 million gallons of gasoline every day, making us the third largest consumer of gasoline in the nation. With this in mind, we should be doing everything in our power to promote innovative and environmentally conscious fossil fuel production here in our own state.

Environmental stewardship is a core value of energy development. The industry often invests in new ways to reduce carbon emissions and data show this commitment works. For example, CO2 emissions from power generation are down 25 percent from their 2005 levels as cleaner burning fuels help improve air quality. The industry constantly seeks cleaner and more efficient ways to help us power our lives. They do this primarily through investing in better, more efficient equipment, leak detection measures and other mitigating technologies, which help reduce harmful emissions.  

Previous generations never could have imagined the amazing advances in energy and technology our nation has made over the years. Energy truly makes what used to be considered the impossible a reality. Thousands of everyday products, like aspirin, nail polish and crayons are created using oil or natural gas. These natural resources are also used in creating wind turbines and photovoltaic cells for solar panels, meaning that they are also essential to creating renewable energy resources.

Admittedly, Florida is a tough state politically to argue support of offshore exploration or drilling given the unpopular nature of these processes by voters who sound the preemptive alarm long before they learn how it actually works. This highly regulated industry goes above and beyond state and federal requirements to ensure military coordination and safety procedures are followed ensuring our waterways are kept pristine. We mostly hear about the BP spill and less about the successful whirlwind of energy development that takes place in Florida and the United States every single day allowing us to turn on our lights and have hot water. The BP spill was not good and the industry since has taken multiple additional steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
I encourage public support of a diversified energy grid and welcome the voting public to learn more about how energy works through the lens of industry experts who make our daily lives possible and make it their mission to provide it safely. More information can be found at this link and can be an educational eye opener for all of us.
Voters should continue to have a tremendous amount of respect for our elected officials who provide us many services including policy creation for the state. This is a very tough job, both on a state and national level, and we get to play our part by voting for them with the responsibility of understanding the tough topics, like energy development and how it works. Let’s learn and become more educated voters for it.


Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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