How desperate are we for oil that we again ignore the potential perils of offshore drilling and again have to fight off the "drill, baby, drillers" who want to tap energy resources off the Florida coast?
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill spewed ugly tar balls on Florida shores and polluted massive amounts of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, we thought offshore drilling was an idea best left in the past.
We should have known better. Once again, Florida politicians are scrambling to ensure additional drilling does not occur off our lovely Florida shores.
This development comes as a fracking bill under consideration in the Florida Legislature would alter the equation when it comes to fracking. Environmentalists are not in favor of the Senate bill (SPB 7064), arguing it provides a big loophole: It allows fracking when it involves "matrix acidizing," The News Service of Florida reported.
The problem with fracking, as some lawmakers pointed out, is twofold. One, the Florida ecosystem is especially fragile, and while we can't live without extracting fuels from somewhere, we think this is a good time to employ the "NIMBY" argument. We're a tourism-driven state, and while we do have some fracking already, we think it's best for counties to have the option to ban fracking — and most should (albeit a grandfathering clause would be required). When it comes to the Florida environment, err on the side of the environment. We'd rather offer too much protection than not enough, because once you ruin the environment of something, it's costly to clean up — if that's even an option.
Two, allowing for fracking in one county does not necessarily mean the next county over is safe from fracking. If your neighbor allows fracking, then any potential problems also could be your problem, so a county-by-county solution seems more complicated than allowing any one county to allow it while the next bans it.
It's for those same reasons that we implore the Interior Department to exclude the Eastern Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling, as outlined in Sen. Marco Rubio's Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act (S. 13), which would extend the drilling moratorium to 2027.
It's a measure all members of Florida's Washington delegation should stand behind — not for partisan reasons, but because it's the right thing to do to help ensure that 20 years from now we can look back at 2019 and remember we did something right by our children and grandchildren. If the United States were in need of new sources of fuel, then a reasonable argument could be made that Gulf drilling needs to be explored. But we are not at that point — just the opposite actually — and so this should be an easy decision for all Florida lawmakers. Keep the drilling away from Florida shores and move with extreme caution when it comes to fracking.
Those are two subjects we can't afford to get wrong.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD