TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon unveiled a proposal today that would lift the state's current ban on oil and gas exploration and production in the state waters off Florida's coast – a move economists say could be worth at least $1.6 billion a year in state revenues and create more than 19,000 jobs, according to the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF).
The measure amended to CS/CS/HB 1219, which was approved by the Policy Council of the Florida House of Representatives, would empower the Governor and Cabinet to consider a process for reviewing, approving, or rejecting proposals for exploration and production of oil and gas in Florida's state waters.
"Florida's families and businesses are facing unprecedented economic challenges, and the potential for significant, new public revenues from oil and gas are immense," says Barney Bishop III, president and CEO of AIF. "I am confident that we can do this in a way that will protect our environment and our precious coastline, which is such a critical natural resource for our state."
"Floridians continue to suffer from devastating cuts to higher education, environmental protection, health care, and vital infrastructure," says Martha Barnett, partner at Holland & Knight and past president of the American Bar Association. "For the sake of our state's future, we cannot delay discussion of this issue any longer, nor ignore the benefits that other states continue to derive from their energy resources."
A recent survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research finds:
• 59% of Floridians generally support drilling off Florida's coast
• 79% support drilling if it raises money for public education, health care and environmental protection
• 83% support drilling if it will produce new jobs and stimulate the economy
• 88% support drilling if it is environmentally safe.
"Recent public opinion surveys document that Floridians have come to strongly support exploration and production of oil and gas resources off the Florida coast," says Larry Harris, a principal with Mason-Dixon. "Nine in 10 voters (88%) support offshore production if it is done in an environmentally safe fashion and raises significant revenues, boosts the economy, and creates jobs."