Thursday, September 25, 2008


Mica head-butting ABC News cameraman

Guest Column: Rep. Mica defends role in international relations, oil drilling

Washington, D.C.
Publication Date: 09/23/07
A recent guest column in The St. Augustine Record was critical of a 2005 trip that I made several years ago to China and Tibet and several of my legislative positions. Let me respond by providing your readers with both the facts and my viewpoint.

As Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, I was part of an official United States Delegation to China to promote American manufactured products including aircraft and aviation equipment. China is our largest market for those sales.

Prior to that visit, the Europeans had been taking a larger and larger share of that market.

Joining with other Congressional leaders, then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Small Business Chairman Donald Manzullo, our mission had two goals.

First, increasing U.S. exports and second, to urge BeijingÕs leaders to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear agenda. China accounts for our biggest trade deficit and we made it clear that was unacceptable. Aviation manufacturing has been our largest export goods employer and is vital to the American economy and our ability to compete in a global market.

During our mission, China bought 42 U.S. aircraft totaling nearly $5 billion in sales. Since our visit Boeing has regained a majority of market share and progress has been made with North Korea on nuclear disarmament Ñ both of which I am pleased to have played a small part. My meetings in South China and Tibet, which China now controls, focused on markets which Europeans have begun to capture. While as many people live there as the entire population of the U.S., America has only six foreign commercial officers to tackle that emerging market.

European competitors are providing training to civil aviation officials and airline professionals to capture those markets.

As a direct result of that visit and working with our U.S. Trade Development Administration and the private sector, we are making certain the U.S. will compete in those growing markets.

Another issue raised by the writer criticized my position on offshore drilling. Since my service in the Florida Legislature during the 1970s oil crisis, I have supported a sound and reasonable offshore drilling policy. In fact, with the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, I helped secure a 100-mile buffer for oil drilling off FloridaÕs coast.

However when Gov. Jeb Bush and others sought to increase that limit and change terms of drilling in Track 181 off FloridaÕs panhandle, I disagreed.

Today the technology exists to develop natural gas off our shores, out of the line of sight and without threat to the environment.

During the 1990s we urged utility companies that produce FloridaÕs power to convert to more eco-friendly natural gas and a billion dollar gas pipeline was constructed in the Gulf.

Consistently changing the terms for exploration and development makes the U.S. more dependent on foreign gas and oil. Most oil spills occur in transport, including Exxon Valdez.

Just look off St. Augustine shores and everyday you will see more ships within eyesight transporting more foreign oil and gas, increasing our risk and dependency. Our long term goal must be to abandon fossil fuels but we need a sound interim policy that does not bankrupt consumers or destroy our economy.

Finally, I will be glad to compare my record of service to St. Johns County, relating to transportation, veterans, seniors, and community projects, with any current or past elected official.

You can find additional information on my legislative record on my Web site at

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, represents FloridaÕs Seventh Congressional District, which includes St. Johns County.

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