The current issue of Bay Soundings, "Tampa Bays Science and Nature News Journal, includes a full-page message promoting oil drilling off Floridas coasts and touting the safety(!) of offshore drilling. The previous issue also presented a missive supporting drilling done in a "safe and environmentally sound manner" within three miles of Florida's coast. The Soundings funded by public agencies directed by local elected officials has not printed any perspective from anyone opposed to offshore drilling.
The pro-drilling folly was printed right before the recent Gulf spill, but it was indefensible even then. The fact that these articles are made ludicrous by the recent ecological disaster in the Gulf makes it all the more important to examine how such pro-drilling propaganda can get promoted by these public agencies; for it is just this sort of propaganda that gives political cover to those who would bring drilling, with all its horrible impacts, nearer to Florida's coasts particularly when that propaganda is funded by public agencies with green-sounding names like the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (which includes the Agency on Bay Management), the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
This issues piece by Frank M. Hughes, "who worked for 15 years in the petroleum industry," is a fervent pro-drilling, anti-environmentalist position paper:
"drilling offshore Florida is the only rational course of action. We need to stop regurgitating and rehashing the same warmed over political clutter tossed out there just to prevent any kind of economic development and growth."
Hughes complains that the 1993 barge spill and the Exxon Valdez have been beaten to death, and dismisses as "irrelevant" these examples of the fallibility of American oil industry technology. Then he discredits the example of offshore drilling's dangers provided by a recent spill off Australia's coast, by extolling American know-how and freedoms as "modifying factors," arguing that "we can do it better" than anyone else in the world, and that
"a hypothetical spill garnished with imprudent speculation doesnt stand up to hard sustainable evidence."
Oh, how I wish we American environmentalists were still speaking only hypothetically about a drilling-rig spill, similar to Australia's, off our own beloved shores!
Hughes concluded that the environmental risks are "acceptable," so let's Drill, Baby, Drill!
"we need to start now and drill all the oil and gas we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, with all the zeal we can, for as long as we can"
Will Mr. Hughes retract his position now that he has been proven so horribly wrong by the Gulf spill? I doubt it, and I couldn't care less. Here's what galls me:
It is disingenuous for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) to ostensibly refuse to take a position for or against drilling off our coasts, while printing and distributing this pro-drilling hype especially without providing any counterpoint from those who would protect our shorelines by prohibiting drilling near our coasts.