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Daytona Beach News-Journal: Barney Bishop, Explore potential of gas deposits off Florida’s shore

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

As we all know, Florida is an odd state for politics; one where Republicans control the Cabinet, House and Senate, but where voters have supported a Democratic presidential candidate the last two cycles.

On the important topic of energy, Florida’s red politicians get very purple. Traditionally, Republicans have supported the notion of offshore energy exploration, the Keystone XL Pipeline and efforts to boost the manufacturing sector. Democrats have traditionally sought reforms to regulation and pushed for alternative energy sources, many opposing offshore drilling in particular.

But in Florida, support for the industry is far less identifiable. Given Florida’s reliance on beach-driven tourism, politicians have largely stayed away from endorsing offshore drilling, even if it occurred more than 100 miles off the coast. To take it a step further, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has recently filed legislation to create a moratorium on seismic surveying, a process that would gather information on what oil and natural gas resources are available off the Atlantic Coast. Seismic testing was approved last summer by President Obama along the east coast south to about Melbourne. Additionally, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown has introduced a city resolution to ban the activity in that area.

To be clear, seismic testing isn’t drilling. It is a technology that sends pulses of sound to the ocean bottom and brings back up data that can provide a 3D view of where oil and gas resources are found below the ocean floor. It is a highly regulated process that requires many steps of approval and oversight before actually occurring.

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