Oil-and-gas rigs that can be seen from the shores of Longboat Key could become a reality.
The Longboat Key Town Commission and Town Manager Bruce St. Denis were recently informed at a Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association conference that oil drilling off the west coast of Florida could be discussed at a special, two-day Legislative session that could be scheduled for later this month.
“Longboat Key is in the Sarasota-Tampa arch of possible oil-drilling fields,” St. Denis said at the commission’s Thursday, Sept. 24 regular workshop.
Explaining that oil-and-gas rigs could be placed three-to-nine miles offshore, which would be visible from the beach, St. Denis brought forward a resolution that opposes oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida.
The move comes in response to the oil-and-gas industry, which persuaded lawmakers to vote in April for a bill that opens state waters to exploration for oil- and-gas drilling. Drilling, the oil-and-gas industry says, could increase revenues for a state with increasing budget woes.
The bill that was approved by the Florida House, but not the Senate, lifts Florida’s ban on oil drilling in state waters and replaces it with a plan to allow the governor and the Florida Cabinet to seek bidders for exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Environmentalists and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a long-time opponent of drilling off Florida’s coasts, have heavily criticized the bill.
If the topic is not discussed this month, it will be one of the top priorities of the Legislature starting this winter.
Nelson spoke at the beach conference attended by Longboat Key commissioners last month, urging local leaders to voice their displeasure with the bill and any future plans for oil rigs off Florida’s shores.
Nelson could not be reached for comment for this story, but in a statement on his Web site, he writes: “I can’t believe some Florida lawmakers might actually be serious about allowing oil drilling within 10 miles offshore.”
Orlando economist Hank Fishkind told lawmakers earlier this year that 15-year-old federal estimates indicate there is roughly 3 billion gallons of oil off Florida’s coast. If 150 million barrels were drilled each year, at a rate of $53 per barrel and 20% royalties, Fishkind said the state would earn $31 billion over 20 years, or $1.6 billion a year.
Fishkind also predicted that oil-and-gas production would produce 17,000 to 20,000 jobs.
But the sight of oil drills from the beach would impact tourism revenues and quality of life in this area dramatically, according to Virginia Haley, president of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The last thing we want is beaches like they have in Texas, which include directions that teach people how to wipe the tar balls off their feet,” Haley said. “In my opinion, we need to be able to stand on the highest condominium floor on Longboat Key and not see anything but clear, blue water.”
Commissioners, who take action on resolutions based on the island’s populace, are worried about taking formal action on the resolution against oil drilling at their Monday, Oct. 5 regular meeting until they hear from residents.
“We aren’t sure what the citizens of our town think about this,” said Commissioner Peter O’Connor.
“Residents will have to tell us what they want us to do as soon as possible.”
Currently 12 Responses
- The most effective action Longboat residents can take is to contact each of their representatives, ask them where they stand on the issue, and let them know you will not support anyone who supports off-shore drilling. Drilling off shore is not only destructive to our environment but will also destroy tourism, as well as significantly reduce the value of our property.
This is not a left or right issue. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is not a liberal or conservative issue. Everyone on the west coast of Florida must unite to prevent the destruction of this beautiful area.
- It's ironic that China is helping Cuba search for oil off the coast of Florida and the current administration is giving money to Brazil to search for oil off its shore but we do not have the conviction to search for oil off our shores--both of the oceans, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. We subsidize ethanol production which costs more to produce than the BTUs it generates which is a tax on the American people. We are awash in oil yet we don't have foresight to drill, drill, drill.
Milan V. Adrian, Longboat Key
- INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT MOST ALL THE COMMENTS HERE ARE MADE BY THOSE WHO SPENT THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS CHORTLING "DRILL BABY DRILL" ,THE OBTUSE AND VOCAL MANTRA OF VIRTUALLY EVERY STRIPE REPUBLICAN.....IRONIC THAT SENATOR BILL NELSON IS THE ONE TO WHOM THEY NOW NEED TO APPEAL TO FOR HELP..........GOOD THING HE'S IN OFFICE FOR I'M NOT SURE IF K.H. WOULD HAVE HAD THE SWAY OR WILL TO BE AS EFFECTIVE ON THIS AS SEN. NELSON CERTAINLY WILL BE.......
- I am not in favor of these oil rigs for several reasons but the main reason is the harm to the environment. Also, who wants to look at those unsightly rigs so close to our beautiful shore. I say
- it's interesting that many "conservatives" , who form the bulk of the observer's readership were espousing "DRILL,DRILL, DRILL" in a mantra like manner back in the fall ,now don't want it done in their "back yard"..........hmmmmm.....
- We need our beauty as much as we need our energy. The oil rigs must be built out of sight of our homes & beaches. Then strict federal and state monitoring must keep us and our environment clean!
- Absolutely NOT!!!!! Not only will oil rigs spoil the esthetic beauty of our pristine waters, but the danger of spills and pollution is a very real threat to our fish and marine wild life. BIG OIL, drill somewhere else!!!!
- I agree with all of the 4 other comments.
NO, NO, NO
- As a resident of LBK I would urge everyone to speak up with a resounding NO to drilling off our shores. We need to be looking for methods of conserving, not drilling in our waters.
- The reason I spnd my winters at Longboat is because of the Peace,Quiet and Beauty of its Beaches.If this is to change:what was yhe point of coming here??.No,No,a thousand times NO OIL DRILLING
- The country needs to address it's energy challenge As long as Americans hold to the position "yes,but not in my back yard" we're operating with(at least) one hand tied behind our back.What we need is a national policy that outlines the changes in attitude and sacrifice every state's residents need to confront if,as Americans,we're going to fairly and together contribute to a solution.
- No. NO.No.No.
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