September 16, 2008

Once Again . . .

Florida has spoken.

The dolphins and pelicans that swim just off Caladesi Island's linen-white sands along Florida's western coast help draw almost 80 million visitors and $57 billion to the ``Sunshine State'' each year.

As few as 50 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, energy companies say an even bigger prize waits to be taken from the seabed: oil and natural gas that might wean the U.S. off its costly dependence on resources from potentially unfriendly or unstable countries.

After opposing offshore drilling for a quarter century as a threat to their lucrative coastline, a majority of Floridians now favor it, polls show. Four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline has hit voters' pocketbooks and psyches, even as the U.S. government says offshore drilling would have a negligible effect on oil supply and price.

At a Hess gas station on the mainland near Caladesi, Gerald Walker says he used to be against extracting oil off Florida, until prices soared. ``Drilling? At $3.64 a gallon, I'm all for it,'' says the 60-year-old accountant.

``Drill, baby, drill!'' is the Republican Party's rallying cry, and presidential hopeful Senator John McCain of Arizona is gaining traction with it, even in this coastal swing state. An increasing number of Floridians side with him when told he advocates expanded drilling to drive down prices, says Brad Coker of Washington-based Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. Mason-Dixon's is one of several polls conducted this summer that showed at least 6 in 10 Floridians now support drilling.

National Security

``It's become a national-security issue because of wars in the Mideast and Russia's newfound bravado and aggression,'' Coker says.

McCain, 72, was 7 percentage points ahead of his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, 47, of Illinois, in a Florida poll released Sept. 11 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut.

In the 2004 election, President George W. Bush beat Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts by 5 percentage points in Florida. Voters in Pinellas County, home to Caladesi and nearby St. Petersburg, split 50-50 between the two men.

The U.S. burns through about 21 million barrels of oil a day. Almost 60 percent is imported, mainly from Africa, the Persian Gulf and Latin America. Some of the sellers are openly hostile; Venezuela expelled the U.S. ambassador last week. Oil industries in other countries, including Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, have been targets of violence.

I don't think anyone wants drilling done off of either of Florida's coasts in that will diminish its beauty of have deleterious effects on its wildlife. But if I hear that figure one more time about how we have "only 3%" of the world's petroleum reserves, I think I'm going to scream, because 1) it isn't accurate [it's based on old surveys done with outdated technology], and 2) it's not a question of how much we have "in reserve," in the ground, but rather how much we are developing now during this critical 10-20-year period as we race to the finish line on nonrenewables. We just need to buy more time as we perfect biofuels, clean coal, electric/flex fuel cars, and make better use of natural gas.

Anyway, despite the drumbeat of "it won't help, it won't help" coming from the left, Florida seems to "get it," and McCain is ahead further now in the Sunshine State than G.W. was in 2004.

Three thoughts, Florida:

1) No matter what the media say, or whom they call it for, vote this November. I don't want anyone in the panhandle staying home because of anything they hear from the MSM;

2) Whenever you hear the phrase "50 miles," remember that it only takes 12-13 miles for an oil rig or platform to be invisible from shore. Instead of huge arbitrary miileage figures, it would be better to simply have all platforms and rigs kept out of sight of the beaches, and placed so that they do not interfere with boating, fishing, and diving industries, and do not have an adverse impact on marine life;

3) Hang tough. Every dollar we don't send to "our friends, the Saudis" buys us more time to get our renewables" act together. And it's one less dollar that might find its way to a suicide bomber with his or her eye on Orlando.

Posted by Attila Girl at September 16, 2008 09:12 AM | TrackBack

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