Client News

The Palm Beach Post: Commentary: Florida needs to consider offshore oil exploration

Monday, October 20, 2014

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

By Tom Garcia

Without much fanfare, the United States has now met its own domestic natural gas needs, while also becoming the world’s No. 1 exporter of natural gas. At the same time, Americans still consume far more oil than our currently available domestic resources can supply.

The gap in domestic oil requirements versus production is shrinking due to newly incorporated techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, and these technological advances are allowing the United States to produce more oil than it has in more than a decade — an important impact to our economy and national security. However, significant areas of both federally controlled onshore and offshore resources remain closed to oil and gas exploration and production. To achieve energy independence and the benefits to the nation, these resources must be opened to development.

Recent industry estimates show that consumers could potentially save up to $5.8 billion in reduced fuel costs between 2015 and 2035 based on continued domestic crude production. By 2020, the nation could gain 300,000 new jobs, roughly 11,000 of them in Florida. The increase in local, state and federal tax revenue could be a significant factor in addressing shortfalls in areas such as education, health care, and the nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Vets4Energy, a nationwide, nonpartisan organization of volunteer military veterans whose goal is to educate the public and advocate for sound energy policy decisions, believes officials in Washington and particularly along the Gulf Coast need to strongly consider the facts about new drilling techniques and more sophisticated technologies that can contribute to the United States’ energy surge. Vets4Energy is engaged in this topic as it is clear that there is strong linkage between energy independence and national security.

With the increasingly dangerous profile of the Islamic State, the constant threat of Al-Qaeda, and unstable leadership and unrest throughout the world, national security is more relevant and takes on more importance for our country than any time in the recent past. Also of concern to veterans is that we should no longer accept that the “American interests” referred to when American troops are sent overseas is based on access to foreign oil.

We must open up more access to federally controlled onshore and offshore resources to achieve a goal of energy independence. Seismic surveying of offshore resources is a positive first step, and is now approved off the Atlantic Coast, including Florida, to build an updated catalog of oil and gas resources. These measures should also be approved for the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The next step is to determine environmentally viable means to access those resources

In the Florida Panhandle, the major resistance to the idea of offshore drilling seems to be a combination of concern over the Deepwater Horizon event and the argument that military training in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is not compatible with offshore drilling practices. However, regulators and the industry have worked together to make significant enhancements to the safety of offshore operations over the last four years. Additionally, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and U.S. Department of Defense suggests that more than half of the oil and gas resources currently identified in the eastern Gulf of Mexico could be accessed with acceptable to no impact to military training and operations.

It is the Florida Vets4Energy position that with proper planning, military training and oil and gas operations are not mutually exclusive activities. These are important issues that need to be discussed in order to continue our country’s success on the road to energy independence.

« Return to News