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December 12, 2005

Below is the press release from the AIF press conference held today on the Limited Offshore Exploration and Drilling. 

You will see that AIF, has endorsed Governor Jeb Bush’s compromise proposal with Congressman Richard Pombo on the pending energy bill before Congress. 

AIF has carefully reviewed this issue and we clearly understand that off-shore oil well drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico is a controversial issue. Nevertheless, we believe that it is critical for Florida and the entire country that we support enhanced exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas beyond the 125 mile buffer that Governor Bush has proposed. 

As you can see from the quotes in the press release and the statements made during the press conference, the impact of rising energy costs is having a deleterious impact on businesses in Florida. We believe we can increase exploration and drilling without any adverse impact on our fragile environment, and thus help those segments of the business community that are speaking out about the negative impact the current energy problems are causing them.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Barney Bishop

~AIF Becomes First Florida Business Association to  Take a Position in Drilling Debate~

“Florida will suffer high economic consequences if we do not open some additional areas of the Gulf waters to exploration,” said AIF president, Barney Bishop. “The skyrocketing prices of natural gas will force businesses to cut jobs, freeze growth and raise consumer prices. While we must work hard to protect Florida’s pristine environment, we must also compete fiercely in a global economy. To do that, Florida’s businesses must have a reliable and affordable energy supply.”Barney Bishop, President - AIF

AIF represents more than 10,000 businesses across the state including manufacturers, agricultural organizations, fertilizer producers, farmers, chemical producers and countless small companies that are trying to manage escalating energy costs and the uncertainty of future availability. These businesses rely upon natural gas both as a fuel source and for production purposes.

Florida Energy Facts

  • U.S. manufacturers use 33 percent of the nation’s natural gas, which has doubled in price during the last six months, and is more than six times higher than prices during the late 1990’s according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

  • In Florida, more than 80 percent of the electric generation capacity brought on line during a five year period (1998-2002) used natural gas as the primary fuel.*

  • During the next 10 years, Florida plans to build 19,000 MW of additional capacity, and 92 percent of that capacity will be fired using natural gas as the primary fuel.*

  • During the next 10 years, Florida plans to build 19,000 MW of additional capacity, and 92 percent of that capacity will be fired using natural gas as the primary fuel.*

  • Florida is most dependent upon petroleum and natural gas for its energy, fuels which are in shortest supply.*

“The current natural gas situation creates additional problems for Florida’s agricultural industry, which continues to suffer from the devastating hurricanes of 2004 and 2005,” said Mary Hartney of the Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association. “We depend heavily on natural gas to help produce fertilizer and other agricultural materials. If production costs rise, Florida’s ability to grow food and fiber will suffer, and consumers will pay the price.”Mary Hartney - Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association  
Bob Burleson, president of Florida Transportation Builders Association, expressed concern about the rising cost of gas and diesel fuel, which directly affect road-building contractors and suppliers. “Unfortunately, we have no choice but to pass increased costs onto project owners,” he said. “For private development, this translates into higher prices for new homebuyers. On the public side, precious dollars needed for infrastructure construction will not stretch as far.”Bob Burleson, President - FTBA 
“The increasing cost of natural gas has caused plastic resin prices to rise to record levels, putting American-based plastic facilities at a severe competitive disadvantage,” said Josh Young of the American Plastics Council. “As a result, factories are closing or moving off shore, leaving many Americans jobless. Over the past five years, the plastics industry has lost nearly 4,000 jobs in Florida and more than 300,000 jobs nationwide, which is why we must find alternative fuel sources.”Josh Young - American Plastics Council 

Florida’s economy thrives on the energy that businesses need to produce goods and provide services to consumers. Florida’s business leaders worry about their ability to sustain and grow operations and continue to provide millions of Floridians with jobs if the state cannot address the growing problem of unsustainable energy costs. In fact, a recent survey by PNC Financial Services indicated that energy cost was the single biggest concern of small-business owners, surpassing employee health care spending, which had been the top concern for several years in a row.

Experts agree that enormous amounts of undiscovered resources exist in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is in part why AIF supports the Pombo plan as an immediate “partial solution” to rising natural gas prices and supply concerns. Over the long-term, AIF advocates an aggressive approach to developing alternative energy sources including nuclear, hydrogen, ethanol, coal, solar and wind to meet the state’s future needs. AIF believes that through aggressive diversification of energy sources, Florida businesses can address this critical cost factor.

“Florida’s leaders and residents need to be aware that we use substantially more electricity than the national average, and the state’s growth rate in overall energy use is almost twice the national rate,” Bishop said. “If Florida is to grow and prosper over the next twenty and thirty years, we must take some responsibility. Florida is a huge consumer of energy, and it is time to be a part of the solution.”

Those supporting today’s announcement included the Consumers Alliance for Affordable Natural Gas, the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association, the American Plastics Council, Metal Essence Corporation, the Florida Transportation Builders Association, the National Association of Manufactures, and the James Madison Institute. 

Supporting Documents:

Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Resources of Federal OCS 

Natural Gas Supply Gap