In November, the Trump administration took a step in the right direction by indicating intent to permit seismic surveying in the Atlantic – a step that was welcomed by many in the area. Now, those who favor greater domestic energy production are awaiting the federal government’s decision on which areas will be open for future energy development in its 2019-2024 offshore leasing plan.
Other than the Atlantic, the proposed plan identified additional areas in the Gulf of Mexico that could become key to meeting future consumer demands in our state. Following the example set by other Gulf states that safely and successfully benefit from offshore energy development – and have for decades – it’s clear that omitting additional areas in the Gulf of Mexico from this plan would be a mistake. Expanding the access to the federal waters in the Gulf would help diversify the local economy, unlock billions in private investment, and provide Floridians with the opportunity to reap the immense economic benefits experienced elsewhere.
Granting permission for energy exploration in additional areas in the Gulf would come at an ideal time for Florida. Energy demand is continuing to grow, with natural gas and oil supplying 72% of Florida’s energy. Florida boasts one of the largest populations in the country and must support millions of tourists each year. Keeping the lights on currently requires reliance on neighboring states, and sometimes-foreign countries, to meet our energy demands.
Eastern Gulf production would allow Florida to see more of its energy produced closer to home, increasing supplies in the region and putting downward pressure on prices. Royalties paid to the state from offshore production could benefit our schools and roads, which continue to see more wear and tear with each passing day. Local and state tax revenue could reach into the billions of dollars in the decades to come. All these developments would help Florida continue to be a great state to live, work, and visit.
It is my hope as we await the federal government’s decision, that we will hear good news in Florida – that more areas in the Gulf will be opened to offshore energy development. There is room for this industry to operate alongside tourism and military operations, just as it does in Texas and other neighboring states. I encourage our elected leaders in Tallahassee and D.C. to come down on the side of forward thinking and support what is best for our state in the long term, by supporting continued and expanded offshore energy development in the Gulf.