Monday, September 21, 2009

Florida Ignores Billions in Oil/Gas Revenue

By Alan Caruba

If you were the governor of a state that had anywhere from $7 billion at the low end and $41 billion at the high end in oil and natural gas revenues, wouldn’t you want to drill for it? If you did, you would open up between 20,000 and 40,000 news jobs related to the exploration, extraction, and distribution of these vital sources of energy.

That’s the case in Florida and, in fact, along the long East, West and Gulf of Mexico coastlines of U.S. states. Is there oil out there? As Business Week reported in early September, “It may be one of the biggest oil finds of the year, if not the decade” referring to one made by British Petroleum in the western gulf of Mexico. How big? Billions of barrels of oil.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research (IER) personally delivered 11,816 comments from Americans to the Secretary of the Interior. They want the U.S. to drill off our outer continental shelf. At present, 85% of it is off-limits to exploration and extraction. It is unlikely that Ken Salazar will lift the ban. Like the entire Obama administration, he is opposed to accessing oil, natural gas, or coal.

For people who run around shouting that America needs “energy independence”, neither Democrat, nor Republican presidents or politicians have allowed the nation’s vast interior and offshore resources to be tapped for decades. This is a criminally stupid policy.

The main opposition, of course, comes from the many environmental organizations that want to keep everything “pristine” while the rest of us could be looking at $7-a-gallon gasoline if things heat up in the Persian Gulf or blackouts if they continue to block the building of coal-fired plants to generate electricity (coal accounts for just over half of all the electricity we use daily.)

What most Americans still don’t “get” is that the Greens lie all the time to achieve their agenda. The Sierra Club was recently found out in a lie about a 1990 “oil spill” in Tampa Bay that never happened!

Among the many lies Greens tell about offshore drilling is that there is not enough energy in the outer continental shelf to justify exploration. Interior’s own Minerals Management Services estimates that the OCS contains 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Those are likely to be conservative estimates given recent oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico by BP and Chevron.

Then there is the canard about oil leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Interior data, offshore operators produced seven billion barrels of oil from 1985 to 2001 with a spill rate of .001 percent! According to the National Academy of Sciences, the majority of oil in the ocean, 60 percent, is the result of natural seeps through the ocean floor.

In Florida, the Greens are waging a fight to keep that state from benefiting from the oil in its OCS areas. The National Petroleum Council estimates that the eastern Gulf may hold up to 36.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.2 billion barrels of oil. The 45,000 acre Jay and Blackjack fields in northwestern Florida, the state’s most prolific, will yield a billion barrels of oil. There are similar fields in Sunniland in Southwest Florida.

Why wouldn’t Florida want to tap all that income to fund its schools and other public facilities and programs? Texas dedicated $716 million from energy revenues to public education in 2008. In 2008 and 2009, oil and gas receipts from severance taxes in Texas generated nearly $7 billion dollars.

Why wouldn’t other coastal states want to do the same thing? Imagine what it would be like to have more national energy sources, perhaps another refinery or two, and more coal-fired and nuclear plants to produce our growing need for electricity? Imagine all the jobs that would generate?

And now try to imagine why the U.S. government has steadfastly resisted and thwarted this since the days of Jimmy Carter?

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