Saturday, March 26, 2016


Florida environment, tourism remain at risk as companies still want to test
Posted: March 25, 2016 - 9:59pm | Updated: March 25, 2016 - 10:18pm
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The future of Florida’s eastern coast is still murky, despite last week’s announcement by the Obama administration to bar Atlantic offshore drilling.

The victory highlights the influence of more than 1,000 East Coast businesses and 110 municipalities, according to Erin Handy, the Florida campaign organizer for Oceana.

But Handy said seismic testing and a slow adoption of renewable energy resources still pose imminent threats against environmental well-being.

“We know for a fact that there are still nine seismic blasting applications pending with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management,” Handy said. “I believe four of those permits would include areas off the coast of Florida.”

Seismic surveys locate and estimate the size of oil and gas reserves using high-decible explosive impulses to test the seafloor. The seismic airgun blasts threaten more than 100,000 marine mammals and cripple fisheries supporting coastal economies.

Handy said private companies are holding out hope for future drilling possibilities and coastal communities must fight to protect their fishing and tourism industries.

Data gathered by Oceana from the Census Bureau and NOAA calculate that fishing, tourism and recreation support more than 281,000 jobs and generate $36 billion in gross domestic product along the Atlantic coast of Florida alone.

“People think if there’s no drilling, there’s no seismic testing, but that’s not true,” Mantanzas Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon said. “We are a tourism and fishing-based economy, so why on earth would we think something that directly threatens the basis of our economy would be a good idea?”

NOAA reported in 2014 there were 68 million recreational fishing trips in the United States with 57 percent of trips and 55 percent of catches occurring along the Atlantic coast.

Armingeon said St. Augustine has been especially vocal in opposition against drilling expansion, which would harm its tourist and fishing appeal.

“St. Johns County is a fairly conservative county, and yet they were one of the first local governments that passed resolutions against drilling and seismic testing,” Armingeon said. “There’s nothing for us in that plan.”

Mayor Nancy Shaver has long supported the idea of a healthier St. Augustine coastline and credits the federal victory to the community.

“We’ve had anti-fracking and anti-seismic testing resolutions in the city, so we know our environment matters,” Shaver said. “The community is very involved. This is a huge part of who we are.”

According to Claire Douglass, Oceana climate and energy campaign director, the coastal grassroots movement significantly trumped the oil industry.

“This is the voice of the people saying, ‘No, we don’t want drilling; we need to protect healthy oceans and protect our billions-dollar tourism and fishing industry,’” Douglass said.

But she added environmental progress has a long way to go and coastal and inland communities must continue to vocalize their opinions.

“The concerns are still the same,” Douglass said. “Cities are looking at the issues of seismic blasting and need to meet about it, put resolutions on the agenda and stand up for what they believe in and think is right.”

procarp 03/26/16 - 10:32 am 32seismic testing
Take the money they are spending on all this and invest it in solar. We are the sunshine state after all lets live up to it.

Dr.MacMantazas 03/26/16 - 07:09 pm 23Procarp, emphasis on solar and other renewable ventures.....
will not become the focus of governmental funding as long as federal and state legislatures primarily are influenced by funding from the Koch brothers and similar billionaires invested in fossil fuels. The Florida legislature and Governor stand out with their votes definitely in that camp.

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