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Tallahassee Democrat: Alvarez: Support safe offshore energy exploration

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Mark Alvarez, My View

As a U.S. Army veteran and proud member of Florida Vets4Energy, I am pleased to see the Executive Order by President Trump to explore offshore resources prioritizing safe U.S. energy development.

The direct correlation between energy security and our country’s national security became apparent during my time fighting overseas. Most of the oil we import comes from countries in the Middle East – unfriendly and unstable countries that certainly do not have America’s best interests at heart.

I chose to fight for our country because I feel a sense of duty protect our country, which is exactly why the issue of energy security is so important to me.

Before we open our waters to drilling of any kind, energy companies can find the precise location of oil and natural gas reservoirs through a decades-old process called seismic surveying. Seismic surveys help reduce the risk of damaging the environment by helping to select the most appropriate locations to consider drilling and eliminate many targets well before drilling would even be considered. Think of the process as a “CAT scan” of the ocean.

Over the course of eight decades, we have seen how environmentally safe and successful seismic surveying can be. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s chief environmental officer has even stated there has been no reported damage to marine life from seismic surveying in its 80-year existence. Furthermore, accessing our offshore energy resources is safer now than ever before, with a rigorous permitting process ensuring the environment is protected.

Despite having a proven ability to safely explore our offshore energy resources, current regulations keep over 90 percent of federal waters off limits to drilling and exploration. Blocking our access to millions of acres of oil and natural gas hinders our country’s ability to become energy independent, while also forfeiting opportunities to add revenue to our economy and employ hardworking Americans.

Opening our waters to sustained pro-development offshore energy policies could create nearly half a million American jobs and nearly double the country’s oil and gas output. Furthermore, over 100,000 jobs could be created right here in Florida if waters off our coast are opened to drilling.

 The fiscal impact offshore drilling could have on Florida’s economy is another bonus. Offshore drilling will generate upwards of $20 billion for the state government over the next 20 years. On an individual level, producing more oil and natural gas domestically is more cost efficient, leading to lower household utility bills and less money spent filling your car up at the gas station.

Recently, our Vets4Energy National Chair, Rear Admiral Don Loren, addressed the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Florida State Convention. Loren encouraged our veterans to support safe and successful offshore seismic surveying as a starting point to becoming more energy independent, and I encourage all Floridians to do the same.

Embracing a larger role in America’s energy production can only benefit Floridians. We should all welcome the opportunity to increase our prosperity and support all efforts to open our waters to offshore drilling.

Mark Alvarez is a U.S. Army veteran and member of Florida Vets4Energy.

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