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Sunshine State News: Barney Bishop: Offshore Energy Exploration Is Safe, Has Been Going on for 81 Years

Monday, June 12, 2017

As you know, Florida is a state that continues to grow exponentially year after year. In fact, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2016 annual report, our population increases by 1 percent annually, bringing an additional one million people to Florida every five years. We are fortunate that our great state continues to flourish, however we will need to continue to invest in things like energy infrastructure if we want to continue to live, play and work in the sunshine state.

Energy infrastructure is key to positive economic growth and helps keep our lives operating – from our alarm clock in the morning, traveling to work each day, feeding our families and charging our phones at night. The convenience energy provides is unparalleled, and its advancement is now more important than ever.

The first step to exploring future offshore development opportunities is information gathering, which allows scientists to pinpoint our energy resources. One safe way to do so is through seismic testing, a proven and efficient means to determine energy potential in the ocean. Seismic testing, which began in 1937 in the Gulf of Mexico, offers a detailed analysis of underwater structures through 3D data, like a CAT scan of the ocean.

Low-frequency sound pulses are used while scanning the ocean floor and identifying potential locations of hydrocarbon association. Additionally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has stated there is no documented scientific evidence that seismic testing causes harm to marine animals, since its inception 80 years ago. This method helps us locate where we have supply in order to then determine if we should gather it for energy use. President Trump’s Executive Order to explore offshore energy resources provides an excellent opportunity for both Florida and the rest of the country as we continue to become energy independent.

Infrastructure investments in energy could stimulate the economy and put thousands of Floridians to work during the construction phase alone. Furthermore, it could save our taxpayers more than $600 million in hard-earned money as these developments in energy would result in lower gas prices and reduced utility bills. Additionally, taxes paid by industry companies would substantially increase Florida’s state tax revenue, which can be put back in the community by improving our schools, roads, water and more.

In addition to adding jobs and saving money, having a domestic oil supply will reduce our reliance on foreign products. It would give our country more energy independence, which also helps to further protect our national security.

One safe and viable option to maintain our way of life is to ensure access to oil and natural gas. We need to find where we have supply, via seismic testing as an option, and then decide where and when to safely obtain those supplies. Thankfully, the United States has the natural resources and we should be able to begin learning what is out there, at a minimum.

Investing in our energy infrastructure is an efficient, reliable and cost-effective way to supply America with the ability to drive cars and keep the lights on – and those are two examples of thousands.

Floridians deserve the opportunity to benefit from the millions of dollars and thousands of jobs this could bring to our great state. I encourage you, the voting public, to support opportunities to explore our offshore energy resources.

Barney Bishop III, president & CEO, Barney Bishop Consulting, immediate past president & CEO, Associated Industries of Florida & former executive director for the Florida Democratic Party.

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