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April 9, 2009

TALLAHASSEE – Barney Bishop III, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), yesterday testified before the U. S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) in support of energy conservation and efficiency, renewables and increased exploration for domestic sources of oil and natural gas.

Bishop’s testimony was given during the second of U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's series of public meetings on the future of American energy policy. The meeting was held at Tulane University in New Orleans. This is the third time that AIF has testified before the MMS in support of utilizing the nation’s natural resources to help fulfill its energy needs.

“The people of Florida clearly understand that exploration and drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico increases our national security, keeps the price of fossil fuels competitive and helps to ensure that when we flip the light switch that light will actually come on. However, we need many more of Florida's Congressional delegation to support enhanced exploration and drilling,” said Bishop. “While Florida and the United States work for a greener future, we must recognize that, for at least the next generation, we will have to continue to rely on fossil fuels. We can't get to a greener future without oil and natural gas. If we do this smartly, we can use oil and natural gas revenues to jump start alternative energy options. This means new energy jobs for Floridians at a time when our citizenry is increasingly unemployed and royalties that can help mitigate our growing state deficit.”

According to AIF’s most recent polling, nearly eight in 10 Floridians – 79 percent – believe drilling for oil and natural gas should be allowed off the coast of Florida. Of that 79 percent, 65 percent of respondents felt drilling should be allowed anywhere off the coast, 25 miles out or 50 miles out – significantly closer than the current 125 mile restriction.

Conducted by McLaughlin & Associates in mid-February, the poll surveyed by telephone 600 randomly-selected likely general election voters throughout Florida. It has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

“Our nation is in need of a comprehensive energy plan that must include domestic fossil fuels as part of the solution. Like the Floridians polled, I agree it is essential for Florida to prepare for our energy future by enabling the search and recovery of this fuel source before it becomes an issue. Times are tough enough and Florida needs to strongly consider ALL forms of energy, and the means to find it, if we are ever going to see an affordable and sustainable energy future,” said Tony Domenech, Former Gainesville City Commissioner and FLA Energy Forum member.

In 2005, AIF was the first business association in Florida to endorse more exploration of oil and natural gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico provided it took place 125 miles off of our coasts. At the same time, AIF also endorsed energy conservation, all forms of alternative energy and nuclear energy.