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December 12, 2006

This past Saturday, December 9th, the U. S. Senate passed H.R. 6111, The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 by a vote of 79 – 9.  S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act was included in the package.  S. 3711 will open roughly 8.3 million acres for oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.  The addition of new areas in the Gulf of Mexico will allow access to approximately 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to keep 6 million homes warm for 15 years.

On Friday, December 8th the House defeated an amendment by Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) to force oil companies holding leases without royalty thresholds to renegotiate before they are granted new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.  The amendment was defeated by a close 205-207.  If it had passed, it would have sent the bill back to committee.  The vote on the entire measure was more decisive, passing 367 – 45.

Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) was the first statewide general business group to endorse exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) last December 15th.  It has been a very long haul in order to secure this victory, but AIF’s Board and members always felt that this was the RIGHT thing to do.  We recognize that this victory is not going to make us energy independent, but it will go a long way to making us less dependent on foreign countries for some of our energy resources.  Because we are realists we not only endorsed drilling for oil and natural gas, we also voiced support for alternative energy sources and for the expansion of nuclear power plants to meet our state and country’s growing energy needs.  Though we are fourth most populous state in the union currently, we are the third largest energy consumer in the country and Floridians understand the importance of energy to our growing state. 

AIF wants to commend the following individuals for their passionate and steadfast leadership on this very important issue:  Rosemary O’Brien of CF Industries, Dave Mica of the Florida Petroleum Council, David Rogers of the Florida Natural Gas Association, Lisa Flavin of the American Petroleum Institute, Keith McCoy of the National Association of Manufacturers, Mary Hartney of the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association, Bob Burleson of the Florida Transportation Builders Association, among many others.  Without the support, guidance and insight from these leaders Florida and the country could never have secured this legislative victory!

AIF also wants to commend U. S. Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Bartow) for his tireless efforts to bring this bill to the table.  When the cause seemed hopeless this past summer, Congressman Putnam worked around the clock to make sure that this bill and it’s very important ramifications for Florida’s economy would not be lost to partisan bickering.  As a result we have a bill that will help our state and country for the future.

Finally, we would be remiss, if we didn’t salute our retiring Governor – Jeb Bush – for his calculating move in the late summer of 2005 when he proposed to allow drilling 125 miles off of our shores as a way to protect our environment and our tourism economy by trading that for an extended Presidential moratoria to 2022.  He became the first statewide elected official to ever take this courageous stand, and while he suffered a lot of ridicule by citizens and the newspapers, once again he was right.  It was the right thing to do and it was for the right reasons, and Floridians should thank him for his vision.  He was the one who got the ball rolling, and to you Governor Bush, we simply say “thank you!”

As a result of this year long fight, AIF has announced the creation of the Florida Energy Council (FEC) which will help drive our energy policy both in Tallahassee and in Washington, DC.  The first meeting of the FEC is set for 11 am – 1 pm on Tuesday, December 19th at AIF headquarters.  If you are interested in attending please call AIF headquarters for more details.

How the Florida Delegation voted on this legislation.
US Senate:
Senator Bill Nelson (D) YES
Senator Mel Martinez (R)  YES


US House of Representatives:
District 1 Jeff Miller (R)    YES
District 2 Allen Boyd (D)  YES
District 3 Corrine Brown (D) YES
District 4 Ander Crenshaw (R) YES
District 5 Ginny Brown-Waite (R) YES
District 6 Clifford Stearns (R) YES
District 7 John Mica (R)   YES
District 8 Ric Keller (R) YES
District 9 Michael Bilirakis (R) YES
District 10 C.W. Young (R) YES
District 11 Jim Davis (D)  NO
District 12 Adam Putnam (R) YES
District 13 Katherine Harris (R)  YES
District 14 Connie Mack (R)  YES
District 15 David Weldon (R)  YES
District 16 N/A  N/A 
District 17 Kendrick Meek (D) NO
District 18 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) NO
District 19 Robert Wexler (D) NO
District 20 Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) NO
District 21 Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R)  YES
District 22 Clay Shaw (R) YES
District 23 Alcee Hastings (D)  NO
District 24 Tom Feeney (R)   YES
District 25 Mario Diaz-Balart (R)   YES