Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Support the Offshore Drilling Moratorium

Dear Members of the Florida Congressional Delegation:

For over 20 years the delegation has worked on a bipartisan basis to ensure the integrity of Florida's environment and economy by annually renewing the offshore drilling moratorium. When you return to Washington D.C. in September, the annual vote for renewing the moratorium will be before you again. We urge each of you to support continuation of it, to protect Florida's valuable and environmentally sensitive coastal and ocean resources and the tourism economy that depends on these resources.

Our great State, home to Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks, as well as Gulf Islands and Canaveral National Seashores and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is blessed with a wealth of unique yet environmentally sensitive resources along its coastline. Recent proponents for lifting the moratorium have touted offshore drillings' safety record to sensitive environmental areas. However, offshore drilling continues to have significant environmental impacts. For example, the U.S. Minerals Management Services documented Hurricanes Katrina and Rita causing over 743,000 gallons of petroleum products to spill offshore and 457 pipelines to break. Simply, the complex infrastructure needed to explore, produce and bring petroleum ashore is highly vulnerable, and threatens coastal resources our Nation has invested billions to protect.

Protecting Florida's unique resources is vital to our residents and visitors alike. In 2007, VISIT FLORIDA documented 84.5 million visitors, over 77 million from other States. Those visitors spent $65 billion and supported almost 1 million tourism related jobs. Pennies may possibly be saved on gas prices a decade from now, as proponents of lifting the drilling moratorium contend, yet the logic is pound foolish due to the risks drilling poses to jobs, revenue and a way of life central to Florida's prosperity.

The drilling moratorium has endured for more than 20 years because it does more than protect Florida's environment and economy; it integrates them with our State's contribution to national security. Military training missions off Florida's coasts benefit from the vast areas of open water, free of drilling platforms, by providing an increased level of safety to personnel in-training. This also keeps drilling operations which create waste muds and cuttings known to have toxic metals including mercury, lead and cadium far from the treasured natural resources that drive Florida's economy.

We need your leadership at this critical time to guide not only our State but our Nation to a cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy future. We urge you to renew the offshore drilling moratorium and implement a renewable energy policy that will provide a viable future for all Floridians.

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