September 4, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Associated Industries of Florida today endorsed the idea of revisiting Florida’s longstanding ban on offshore oil exploration in a special legislative session this fall, calling it an “urgent imperative” to create employment opportunities for the one in 10 Floridians who are out of work.
“There is no better way to recognize, honor and support Florida’s workforce than for our leaders to create employment opportunities for nearly 1 million Floridians who are currently out of work,” said AIF President and CEO Barney Bishop. “Energy production would put tens of thousands of Floridians to work.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Charlie Crist indicated he may favor asking the Legislature to take up energy exploration in a special session this fall, an idea Bishop endorsed. Bishop said the issue “demands the kind of focus it would receive in a special session.”
Bishop pointed to a recent analysis by Florida economists Fishkind & Associates projecting that even at the lowest projection of Florida’s offshore energy reserves, a new energy sector could create more than 40,000 jobs. At the higher end of Fishkind’s estimates, creating a Florida‐based energy sector would create 231,000 new Florida jobs.
On Wednesday, London‐based BP announced that it made a “giant” oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. While that discovery occurred in deep, federal waters, the greatest economic potential for Florida exists closer to shore, in the Gulf waters up to 10.3 miles off the Florida coast, which Florida owns. In those waters, the State would reap all the revenues from oil and natural gas discoveries.
Florida’s economic trials received national media focus this week, including articles in the New York Times and USA Today documenting Florida’s record levels of foreclosures, unemployment and a first‐ever population decline.
“Item No. 1 on Florida’s agenda for the future must be a new energy sector that generates high wage jobs, boosts our economy and moves the country toward energy independence while contributing to Florida’s budget needs,” Bishop said. “It’s time to rebuild Florida’s economy.”