The chant of, “Drill baby Drill” and hungry looks towards the Gulf of Mexico happens a lot more often that what I would like.
In fact, I wish we would not allow any additional drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and would prefer that our current oil producing rigs were up to code in safety regulations and passed the audits of a 3rd party independent agency (something that President Obama should have pushed for while he held our oil fields on a moratorium; but refused to acknowledge.)
Why, such a strong (and controversial; given my political leanings) statement?
First hand damage assessment of 2 oil spills that affected Florida within a 14 year period
Back during the Maconda/BP oil spill in 2010 where 4.9 million barrels (read: 260 Olympic swimming pool worth) of oil polluted the Gulf of Mexico, I drew on my journalism strength and became an investigative reporter for my self produced investigative channel, ClearWater Perspective, and participated in backstage teleconferences with BP, TransOcean, EPA, NOAA, MMS and the Coast Guard.
Additionally, I had close friends fly over and report on the oil spill and encounter harmed, innocent, wildlife who either swam into the oil and toxic dispersant or who ate off the oiled covered shores or were residing in a nearby tree branch when BP engaged their aerial dispersing. The results were horrifying and something that I truly will never forget.
If you have a moment, please click into this video. A friend of mine made it with pictures of the real damage of the BP oil spill. Warning: this is not suitable for children.
The reality of the oil spill became very real to me and contrasting and comparing my first hand experience with living near Tampa Bay back in during the oil spill in 1996 (where 300,000 gallons of heavy oil and another 33,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled after a collision in West Central Florida) convinced me that it is only a matter of time until Florida suffers a backlash comparable to Louisiana.
Seeing the not so lucky wildlife and economic damage and how it negatively impacted the fishermen, shrimpers, tourism industry, realtors, wedding planners, coastal businesses and coastal communities and wrecked havoc on our innocent wildlife made me vow to not allow a 3rd mistake of reckless and greedy drilling happen in our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Its’s like the saying– “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. ” — Fool me thrice and I should have known better than to expect that big oil’s operations were ‘under control” and being properly scrutinized for safety precautions.
Florida is the most at-risk state in the event of another oil spill. (Economic and residential)
People of NW Florida have seen first hand, how public perception can hamper our local economy.
Florida’s main draw is tourism. When people think that Florida has oil-laden beaches; they will be less likely to come down for vacation or buy Gulf seafood; if they feel that it was tainted with oil and toxic dispersant. This change of perception, as has been proven with the 2010 oil spill, can cause a detrimental effects to the very way of life as Floridians have known to grow and love.
As stated above, many community factors suffer and have the potential to increase unemployment, causing people to vacate their home in search for income; whether it be by selling their home the conventional way or short selling their home; resulting in the housing industry value to decrease directly related to the increase in the unemployment rate.
But the possible oil spill damage doesn’t end there… (Military impact)
As many know, there is a huge military mission off of Tyndall AFB, Eglin AFB, Duke AFB and Hurlburt AFB and Pensacola NAS that run alongside the Gulf of Mexico.
The influx of news reporters and clean up crew would be too invasive for our military zone.
At this point in the game; the US cannot afford to take too many chances with nationals security.
But wait there’s more… (Loop Current, possible oil seepage to South Florida, East Florida and the Eastern Seaboard)
If there was an oil spill off the West Coast of Florida, the oil (and toxic dispersant that big oil will use to sink the oil into the water column so nobody can see it) has a chance of getting swept into the Loop Current which is a current (diagramed left) that transports warm Caribbean water through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico.
The current flows northward into the Gulf of Mexico, then loops southeastward just south of the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then just west of the westernmost Bahamas.
Here, the waters of the Loop Current flow northward along the U.S. coast and become the Gulf Stream and run northward, up the East Coast of Florida.
The Loop Current was a big concern of many Floridians during the 2010 oil spill as a handful of times, oil/toxic dispersant became dangerously close to the loop current (some reports show that small traces of oil were pushed into the loop current but weathered before it impacted land) but were swept away by ever changing warm and cold water eddys.
However, next time- we may not be so lucky.
Turn to renewable alternative energy as a primary source for our energy needs
Instead of investing in new equipment and new deep water drilling techniques to search for a resource that will eventually extinguish- let’s put that money towards the wave of the future and a renewable resources that we can draw off of for years to come.
Projects such as energy efficient construction, offshore wind farms, solar landfills, geothermal and aqueduct electricity can help us curb our dependence on oil.
If the US reallocated the money they have towards new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and put it towards alternative energy; we could pave the way for a new future where ultimately- we become dependent on ourselves and not at the hand of our Environment, the Middle East or even Brazil (where Obama promised we would be their biggest customer earlier this year).
The reward is not worth the risk
While I understand that drilling is needed and I fully support state’s sovereignty for wanting to drill (and am in support of drilling in places where the general consensus welcomes the drilling).
As a born, raised and currently residing Floridan. I say the reward is NOT worth the risk for new drilling to take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Not when our wildlife, food chain, fisheries, tourism industry, coastal communities, military intelligence and the entire coastline of Florida is at risk.
Especially when it has been proven that there is no way to adequately prepare for a hurricane and the precautions needed to be taken to avoid churning the oil sunken into the water column and spewing the oil onto coastal communities) until only days before the hurricane comes into the Gulf of Mexico (as remembered with the lack of hurricane preparation during the 2010 hurricane season).
If Mexico wants to drill; we cannot stop them but, more than likely, any spill in their area will not travel into the Gulf of Mexico because of the placement of eddys. Let them destroy their own country; if they so desire.
As for the United States, I advise that we stay on the side of environmental conservation as well as to look to alternative energy as our sustaining life force as that can be renewed so we can pass on our energy capability to our children instead of banking on a non renewable source of energy that will leave our future generations in the dark.
Copyright (c) August 1, 2011. All rights reserved.