Dean Cannon, state representative for Florida and set to take up the position of speaker in the House of Representatives in 2010, is arguing strongly for Florida to take advantage of oil and gas reserves off the coast of Florida, despite residents’ concerns about the potential environmental impact this could have for the states’ beaches.
Cannon cites a number of points that have been made against drilling, including concerns based on problems other states funded by oil extraction such as Texas have seen, including tarballs washing up on the state’s beaches. He advises that most tarballs are the result of oil escaping from the sea bed that has occurred for thousands of years and that this should therefore not be a concern for Floridians.
Cannon advises that he supports legislation that would permit the review of oil and gas drilling proposals by state officials as he believes it is possible to move away from the examples of the past using new technologies that can both develop energy production that is responsible and that protects Florida’s coast and beaches. As Florida currently does not contribute to the US’s energy production, Cannon maintains that it would be both a beneficial contribution to America by reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil, and would also potentially bring over $3 billion dollars of revenue into the state that would help support the economy. Cannon wrote in the Herald Tribune,
“This is a complicated and emotionally charged issue, and I appreciate the passion that all Floridians share for protecting our beautiful environment. During this devastating economic crisis, Florida cannot afford to dismiss out-of-hand the jobs, investment and critical state revenues that offshore drilling could produce.”
In further support of the argument for oil and gas drilling, Cannon mentions the huge tourist market that drives demand for oil through it’s reliance on transportation etc. Would this not then be an ideal opportunity for the state to embrace renewable energy and pilot new technologies, rather than continue travelling the old unsustainable route of being a fossil fuel powered state? Off-shore wind farms look a whole lot more attractive than oil rigs, even if they are temporary rigs on the back of a ship, and investing in renewable technologies would also create jobs, contribute to Florida’s energy requirements and would be worth a lot more to the people and planet in the long term.