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Associated Industries Advocates for Limited Offshore Drilling at Department of Interior Public Hearing on Gulf Drilling

April 6, 2006

TALLAHASSEE —Associated Industries offered public support today to allow for limited offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico during a public hearing sponsored by the U.S. Department of Interior and its Minerals Management Service. AIF commended the MMS for allowing a wide spectrum of Floridians to voice their opinion on the very volatile issue of energy and how this nation is going to keep up with the supply and demand and pricing problems.

“Florida is an enormous consumer of energy. As a result, we have a responsibility to help this nation find a way to ensure that our future energy needs can be met while preserving our state’s natural beauty and our economic viability,” said Barney Bishop, President/CEO of Associated Industries of Florida .

Members of AIF and other business leaders appeared at today’s hearing in favor of
limited off-shore exploration and drilling. Last fall, AIF first announced its support of the Pombo compromise legislation, negotiated by Governor Bush, after weighing the facts and recognizing that a balance had been reached to provide a much needed energy source as well as protection of Florida’s environment.

“High energy prices and supply uncertainties pose a serious long-term threat to the economy in Florida. The cost to operate a business in this state has become enormous. Over the last five years, wholesale natural gas prices have more than tripled and we have the highest natural gas prices of any industrialized country in the world,” said Bishop. “We must begin increasing the energy supply to curb the unacceptable energy prices that are crippling so many business and their employees. One part of the solution is tapping into the proven energy supply in the Eastern Gulf waters in a safe and environmentally-sound manner.”

AIF also endorses exploring all energy alternatives including more nuclear power plants, ethanol, hydrogen, solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy.