The more you know, the better decisions you will make.
What's in it for ... me?
Sunday September 6, 2009. St Petersburg Times.
According to Mr. Ken Welch, Pinellas County commissioner, at the Offshore Oil Drilling Symposium sponsored by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, "...pro-drilling lobbyists conceded that expanded offshore oil drilling will not significantly impact the price of gas at the pump."
It depends on ...who you are?
Sunday August 30, 2009. St. Petersburg Times
A secretive group of powerful legislators, business groups and Texas oil companies has been laying the groundwork since December to win legislative approval to open Florida waters to oil exploration and end the 20-year drilling moratorium.
According to this article, Doug Daniels, a Daytona Beach lawyer representing Florida Energy Associates advocating for off-shore drilling, said the technology has changed to make drilling less visible and intrusive.
"It can be done safely, and it can be done virtually out of sight," Daniels said. Perhaps Mr. Daniels should do a bit more research.
Just one week earlier...
Sunday, August 23, 2009. ABC News
A leak at an offshore oil drilling rig has caused an oil slick off Australia's coast. According to the rig's operator, it could "take weeks to fully plug it." Gas and oil started leaking from a hole beneath the sea floor on early Friday. 69 workers were evacuated yesterday from the West Atlas Offshore drilling rig.
Did someone say...Safely?
Poisonous hydrogen sulfide began leaking from the area and sparked the evacuation, said one rig worker, who spoke to ABC on the condition of anonymity. He said that colleagues detected a gas leak early yesterday before they saw bubbling around one of the platform's 1,200-metre-deep drilling holes.
Far out and ...uh oh!
The leaking Australian oil rig is located about 155 miles off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia, a region dubbed as "one of the world's last true wilderness areas" by Tourism Australia. The UPI reported that the Australian oil leak was 19 miles long after just two days, and that it would take more than seven (7) weeks to contain.
If out of sight, then ...out of your mind?
Closer to home, according to the St. Petersburg Times article, Representative Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican set to become House Speaker in 2010, said his new plan for off-shore oil drilling in Florida would require drilling to stay at least 5 miles away and will include stronger provisions to make sure beachgoers can't see drilling rigs from shore.
19 is a bigger number than 5...right?
...A 19 mile oil slick would practically cover the beaches from Fort Desoto to Indian Rocks beach. The Australian oil rig was 155 miles out to sea. Mr Daniels believes five (5) miles is far enough to be "virtually" out of sight.
If one does the arithmetic, for a 5-foot tall person with excellent/perfect vision standing on the beach, in great conditions, oil platforms would be visible. However, from a second story beach balcony, anyone would find oil drilling and platforms an obvious part of the Gulf Coast sunset scenery.
Math is such an important part of a good education, don't you think?
Who's cleaning up here?
Chemical detergents dropped from airplanes - like fighting forest fires - are being used to "clean up" the Australian oil slick. Really, it's more like dispersal - spreading it out. The detergents reduce the potential impacts of oil on surface-dwelling animals (i.e. birds and otters) but are deadly to young fish and could seriously impair the health of fish populations. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes choosing in an oil spill emergency, whether or not to disperse oil into the water and risk harming coral, versus getting the oil slick off the surface of the water so birds, mangroves and nesting turtles aren't as affected.
An Australian Senator expressed her concerns about the oil slick, "Just imagine if this was happening a bit closer to the Kimberley coast...that oil could be on shore before we even scrambled the planes."
Here in Clearwater, oil representatives at the Offshore Oil Drilling Symposium were asked what their estimate of the clean-up cost for an oil spill might be. They had an interesting answer.
"We Don't Know."
My thanks to the St. Petersburg Times. In addition, material from these sources was beneficial.
An Off shore Oil Drilling UPDATE MARCH 21, 2010
Florida should forget ab out drilling in gulf
In Print: Sunday, March 21, 2010
Drilling off Florida's coast won't increase America's independence from foreign oil, lower gasoline prices or raise billions of dollars annually for the state. •
Those are among the predictable findings of a new nonpartisan report on offshore drilling commissioned by the Florida Senate president. It is inconceivable that any responsible state lawmaker still would consider leveraging the state's pristine shoreline — and the tourism customers it draws — for such little return. Yet Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Orlando, who is in line to be the next House speaker, is doggedly pushing a plan that could put drilling platforms within 10 miles of the west coast.
The report produced by a Tallahassee think tank offers some of the best information yet to refute the propaganda from an anonymous oil industry group, Florida Energy Associates, that wants Florida's ban lifted. The report shows that the most-generous industry estimates for what Florida could collect from drilling in state and federal waters is far less than $2 billion — the annual amount suggested by the energy group's economist.
The Collins Center for Public Policy produced "Potential Impacts of Oil & Gas Exploration in the Gulf" on behalf of the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida, a group set up by the Legislature in 2005 and chaired by former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, a Republican. Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, asked the commission to take on the issue late last year due to concerns about a lack of neutral information on drilling.
The 40-page report uses a question-and-answer format to address 31 issues that have arisen since Florida Energy Associates began its push last year. It says the risk of a devastating oil spill off Florida's coasts has greatly diminished due to technology and safety precautions since the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. But it also acknowledges the risk remains whether the drilling occurs in state waters close to shore or in the federal waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Most striking: Researchers don't think there is even enough oil in state waters to sustain the country's gasoline needs for a week. Advances in seismic technology may make it easier to find natural gas deposits, the report said. But it's not been tested in either the eastern gulf or near Florida. And harvesting natural gas in Florida would displace American-mined coal as a fuel, not foreign oil. The impact on energy costs would be minimal.
The report also states the obvious: Lifting Florida's ban would make it more likely Congress would lift its 2006 ban on the more profitable resources farther out in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which extends as much as 125 miles from Florida's shore. The industry's endgame may be to get the drilling ban in state waters lifted merely to make it impossible to continue with the ban in federal waters.
But the eastern gulf doesn't have nearly the deposits found in the federal waters of the central and western gulf — the areas that benefit Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. And none of those states have received windfalls anywhere close to $2 billion annually from offshore drilling.
If the federal ban was lifted, Florida's annual share of revenues could be as low as $20 million (based on traditional government estimates) to as high as $180 million (based on industry estimates), according to the report. New jobs would number between 1,000 to 2,500.
The report purposely does not estimate revenues from drilling in state waters, except to say they would likely be less than those of other states with greater deposits. Alabama generates the most income from near-shore production: $200 million a year. What does $200 million buy in Florida? Not much compared to a $66 billion state budget. Or compared to the potential risk to the No. 1 industry, tourism.
Supporters of drilling off Florida's shores are evoking a patriotic duty to solve America's dependence on foreign oil. Cannon warns of riots in the streets if Floridians cannot get food because there is no fuel for trucks to deliver to groceries. But these are the facts: The estimated deposits in Florida's state-owned waters aren't even enough to fuel America's needs for a week, and lifting the drilling ban would provide relatively little money for the state. It would open the beaches and the state's tourism industry to additional risk — regardless of new drilling technology. The Senate has the answers it needs to tell Cannon to forget about drilling.
Drilling in Florida waters
The state owns submerged lands from the coast to 10 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and three miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Here are some statistics that speak to drilling issues.
Government estimates of barrels of oil in state- owned water
Barrels of oil the U.S. uses in a week, or 20 million barrels a day
What Florida could collect from drilling in state-owned waters, though experts expect less than other gulf states because of geological formations.
Average annual amount Alabama collects for drilling in its state-owned waters — the most of any gulf state.
Amount the Florida Lottery is expected to raise this year to enhance the state's education offerings
Florida's 2009-2010 state budget
Source: Potential Impacts of Oil & Gas Exploration in the Gulf, Collins Center for Public Policy; 2009 Florida General Appropriations Act (SB 2600)
[Last modified: Mar 19, 2010 09:05 PM]
Students and guests are welcome and encouraged to respond in the comments section. Comments may be moderated.
What do you think?
How might this information help you form an opinion?
What else would y0u like to know?