Client News

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Tapping into Florida’s energy potential

Monday, July 16, 2012

President Barack Obama has said that the United States needs an “all of the above” approach to achieving greater energy security, but too often his words don’t match his actions. That was the case last week when the U.S. Department of the Interior released its new five-year leasing plan for the Outer Continental Shelf

The new plan represented an opportunity to open new areas off the East Coast to exploration and production. Under the new plan, 85 percent of the OCS — including Florida’s Atlantic Coast — will remain off limits for at least the next five years. This leaves the oil and natural gas industry to search for new offshore resources in the same 15 percent of the OCS that it has for decades. That’s no way to enhance energy security.

Using new technologies and techniques, the energy industry is safely tapping into oil and natural gas deposits once deemed inaccessible or too costly to extract. In fact, the U.S. imports less oil today than it has in more than a decade, thanks largely to energy being produced from state-owned and private lands. While energy production overall is booming in the U.S., production on federal property was down 14 percent onshore and 17 percent offshore in 2011.

New domestic production also brings many new energy industry jobs along with increased state and federal revenues. Just look at North Dakota, where an energy boom has helped drive down the state’s unemployment rate to the lowest in the country.

Unfortunately, Florida will remain on the sidelines as the federal government continues to block access to resources off our stretch of the Atlantic Coast.

Congress should take advantage of the opportunity missed by the administration and open the door to new areas to explore, new jobs for Floridians, and new homegrown energy for the country.

Thomas C. Feeney, III, a former U.S. congressman, is president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida.

« Return to News