Why the Florida Congressional Delegation is Wrong on Drilling

At the start of March, 2017 U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke announced that 73 million acres in the Gulf would be open to drilling for five years starting in August.

It appears that some members of the Florida Congressional delegation, lead by Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, are against President Trump’s effort to open up the Sunshine State’s shorelines to oil and natural gas exploration. Included in this group are Republicans Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Vern Buchanan. Interestingly both Rubio and Buchanan voted for the H.R. 1 tax bill which included a provision to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). So they voted for off shore drilling but are now against it?

Some members of the Florida Congressional delegation, including Rubio and Buchanan, are are addicted to the precautionary principle (“better safe than sorry”). 

Rep. Buchanan stated, “Florida’s coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we shouldn’t jeopardize the state’s economy or environment by gambling on operations that lack adequate safeguards.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after the Interior Department released its draft 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing:

“I have long supported the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is not slated to expire until 2022, and introduced legislation to extend the moratorium until 2027. As the Department of Interior works to finalize their draft plan, I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes.”

What is interesting is that it is the U.S. Congress that has over site over the Interior Department which sets safeguards for oil and natural gas exploration. It is also important to note that Florida’s tourist, agricultural, transportation, healthcare based economy is dependent on cheap and reliable power.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

  1. Geologists believe there may be large oil and natural gas deposits in the federal Outer Continental Shelf off of Florida’s western coast.
  2. Florida was second only to Texas in 2014 in net electricity generation from natural gas, which accounted for 61% of Florida’s net generation; coal accounted for almost 23%, the state’s nuclear power plants accounted for 12%, and other resources, including renewable energy, supplied the remaining 4% of electricity generation.
  3. Renewable energy accounted for 2.3% of Florida’s total net electricity generation in 2014, and the state ranked 10th in the nation in net generation from utility-scale solar energy.
  4. In part because of high air conditioning use during the hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity for home heating during the winter months, Florida’s retail electricity sales to the residential sector were second in the nation after Texas in 2014.
  5. Electricity accounts for 90% of the site energy consumed by Florida households, and the annual electricity expenditures of $1,900 are 40% higher than the U.S. average, according to EIA’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Even as the population of Florida has grown dramatically and increased its use of fossil fuels, the Sunshine State has become a much better place to live, work and play.

Alex Scott reported:

A new report from Westwood Global Energy Group has revealed that whilst fewer exploration wells were drilled in the first half of 2017 (compared to the same period a year ago), the commercial success rates of these wells is up.

Overall, commercial success rates jumped to 53% in the first half of 2017 from a 30% success rate in the first half of 2016.

According to Westwood’s Global’s Head of Research, Andrew Hughes, the report indicates, ‘green shoots for exploration drilling, however overall activity remains subdued.’ He also added that ‘the lower well count is translating into more success and lower finding costs, proving that the old exploration mantra of “quality through choice” continues to hold true’.

The American Petroleum Institute (AEI) notes that some of the richest energy reserves in the world are just off of U.S. shores waiting to be discovered in a government owned area lying just 3 – 200 miles out to sea. AEI published a video of an advanced exploration technique called seismic surveying, which is the first step to unlock oil and natural gas resources needed to ensure Florida’s energy security.

Florida politicians are addicted to the precautionary principle (“better safe than sorry”). It is a maxim embraced by government planners and regulators in the Sunshine state at every level. They do not even want to determine what organic fossil fuels lay off of Florida’s coastlines. The precautionary principle worked to stop the building of nuclear power plants in the United States after the 3 Mile Island incident. Today the same tactic is being used to stop off shore drilling using the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Fear is not good public policy.

What is good public policy is insuring that Floridians have access to cheap and reliable power in the foreseeable future. Now is the time to take action. Waiting is not an option.

If the Florida delegation are committed to creating jobs, then they must diversify the economy by promoting energy independence. Energy independence will lead to reduced costs for electricity, gasoline and diversify the economy.

That is good public policy. This is the moral thing to do.

1 reply
  1. Esther Rachwal
    Esther Rachwal says:

    Don’t you suppose that Rubio and Buchanan are trying to appease the Democrats
    and liberal press by opposing opening our shoreline despite the fact that it could
    provide us with much needed oil. I can understand their concern to protect our shore
    lines but these fears can be alleviated with proper precautions and knowledge of the
    past. The Democrats are not going to vote for them no matter what and you can be
    sure the press follows the dictates of the Democrat party.


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