By Dan Gelber
Democratic Leader, Florida House of Representatives
I'm extremely concerned that political expediency is clouding the debate over an issue that is so important to Florida - keeping oil rigs off our shores.
I feel very strongly about this issue, as I'm sure you do. I want lower gas prices like everybody else, but misinformation and dangerous policies won't do anything to bring them down.
The bottom line is that no amount of drilling will reduce gas prices, and politicians shouldn't be giving people this false hope.
I just sent the email below to the Governor of our great state.
You and I have worked together on many, many issues. While we don't always agree, I have always respected you for your willingness to engage an honest debate and avoid the rank partisanship that has defined our state for too long.
So it is in that spirit that I urge you to reconsider your support of Senator McCain and President Bush's position to lift the moratorium on drilling off the shores of Florida. Although I am confident that we will disagree on who to support for President, we both should be able to agree that Florida's pristine coastline should not become just another chit in presidential politics.
What is most distressing has been the argument that we should lift the ban because of the high cost of gasoline. It is simply not fair or accurate to suggest that allowing oil drilling off the Florida coast will do anything to alleviate the currently oppressive cost of fuel. In fact, the Bush administration issued a report saying exactly that just last year, and John McCain himself admitted as recently as three weeks ago that this would not help consumers at the pump.
I think your initial instincts on this were right and I urge you to retreat to your original position that protects our pristine coastlines.
You and I agree that we should not gamble with our state's economic future. So let's protect our coastlines by maintaining the moratorium on drilling off Florida's beaches.
With our help, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States, and he understands that if we're going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we're going to have to get serious about investing in clean, renewable sources of energy - not destroying our beaches for a relatively minute amount of oil.
Don't let your friends and neighbors be fooled by this political ploy. Drilling won't reduce gas prices, and we ought not to even consider risking Florida's tourism-based economy.
The Bush-McCain-Crist plan to open up Florida's shores to drilling would NOT reduce gas prices.
- Ending the moratorium on offshore drilling in the United States would NOT reduce gas prices in any recognizable way for decades and would NOT reduce gas prices in the short-term at all.
- While everyday Florida families are breaking the bank to fill up their gas tanks, the oil industry has been celebrating billions of dollars in profit. The Bush-McCain-Crist plan does nothing to help consumers.
The price of oil is set on the world market. Several countries allow offshore drilling, but their gas prices are even higher than ours.
- In 2008, the price of crude oil has nearly doubled even though there has been no disruption in supply and U.S. petroleum demand has leveled off in recent weeks.
Despite two record-breaking lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico this year alone, prices continue to skyrocket. Only about 20% of the acreage currently available by law for drilling is being used.
- The United States contains only 3 or 4 percent of the world's proven oil and gas reserves. We could drill everywhere in the United States and not meet our energy needs or reduce prices. There is only an estimated 10-month supply of oil in the Gulf.
- Drilling is terrible for tourism - the bedrock of Florida's economy.
- Florida's economy is based in large part on tourism - our beaches draw visitors from around the globe. Shoreline processing equipment would litter the coast with pipelines, roads, helipads, etc., and threaten the state's tourism industry.
- With the current state of Florida's economy, it makes no sense to promote this.
- In 2006, Bush and the Republican Congress opened up Area 181, off the coast of Florida's Panhandle, Area 181, to drilling, under the auspices of reducing gas prices. No drilling has occurred here yet. If drilling ever does occur there, oil rigs will be as close as 20 miles from the coast of Florida's Panhandle beaches.
- Opening Florida's shoreline up to drilling will only serve to increase the record profits of oil companies who continue to drive up the cost of gas for consumers.
- McCain-Crist flip-flop on offshore drilling: more of the same Washington politics and posturing.
In a speech to oil executives in Texas, John McCain announced that he supports lifting the moratorium on oil and gas exploration off of our coasts-exactly what they want to hear. Last time he campaigned for president, McCain told voters in California he supported the moratorium.
This is more of the same Washington politics that has prevented us from achieving energy independence for decades. Much like his gas tax gimmick that would leave consumers with pennies in savings, opening our coastlines to offshore drilling would take at least a decade to produce any oil at all, and the effect on gasoline prices would be negligible at best, since America only has 3 percent of the world's oil.
- It's another example of short-term political posturing from Washington, not the long-term leadership we need to solve our dependence on oil.
- Barack Obama believes we can't just drill our way out of the crisis-we must invest in renewable energy
- Instead of giving oil executives another way to boost their record profits, Barack Obama will put in place a windfall profits tax that will help to ease the burden of higher energy costs on working families.
- And he knows that if we're going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we're going to have to get serious about investing in clean, renewable sources of energy. He has consistently supported efforts to increase our renewable energy production, introducing and supporting legislation to take meaningful steps in transitioning away from foreign oil and fossil fuels.
- As president, Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and promote renewable energy production across the board. He'll adopt a bold federal Renewable Portfolio Standard and he'll extend the Production Tax Credit to increase renewable energy production.
- McCain has repeatedly failed to support investment in renewable energy
- Time and time again, when John McCain was presented with the opportunity to support the development of renewable energy, he failed to do so. He's voted multiple times against tax breaks for renewable energy production, and he voted repeatedly against establishing national renewable energy standards.
- The American people are looking for real leadership on energy, but McCain's dismal record-and his flip-flop on coastal drilling-tell us that all we can expect from him is more of the same failed policies.
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