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Associated Industries Encourages Limited Offshore Drilling at Department of Interior Public Hearing

November 15, 2006

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — The U.S. Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) heard support today from Associated Industries of Florida at a public hearing on a federal plan to open two million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.  AIF praised the MMS for allowing a variety of Floridians statewide to speak on the controversial energy issue and the methods the nation should pursue to keep up with supply and demand. 

“Despite the recent decrease in gas prices, sticking our head in the ocean mud and unilaterally denying ourselves access is not going to help us decrease our foreign dependence on oil nor is it going to deliver us to the promised land of renewable energy,” saidBarney Bishop, President/CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.

Bishop pointed to an October statewide poll conducted on behalf of AIF which revealed nearly two-thirds of Floridians favor opening drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

“Although several of our state and federal leaders continue to voice strong opposition to drilling, it is clear the residents of Florida understand that access and affordability to natural gas and oil is essential to our day-to-day lives,” said Bishop.  “Wholesale natural gas prices have more than tripled over the last five years, causing financial hardships to businesses and households across Florida.  We must begin increasing the energy supply and one part of the solution is to tap into the proven supply of energy in the Eastern Gulf waters, in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

AIF also strongly supports the development of all alternative energy sources including more nuclear power plants, ethanol, hydrogen, solar, wind, ocean current and other renewable sources. But the development of these alternative resources relies on natural gas and oil.  Opening the waters to additional drilling will help solve immediate energy needs and move our nation toward affordable long-term solutions.