An Open Letter to Senator Landrieu from a Concerned Floridian

Dear Senator Landrieu,I write this letter to you as a Florida resident of over 40 years, and as a lover of the Gulf of Mexico. While I respect your position as a United States Senator and believe you promote policies which you believe to be in the national interest, I am writing to urge to stop attempts to weaken or dismantle protections that prevent offshore oil and gas drilling off the Gulf Coast of Florida.United States Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has it right. He has been a consistent champion of Florida’s coastlines and a staunch opponent of drilling off the Gulf Coast of Florida. I respectfully ask that you follow his lead on this issue as he knows his state and its needs much like I would urge him to support coastal restoration in Louisiana as you know the needs of your state.Offshore drilling is wrong for Florida in numerous ways. By any criteria used to measure its potential negative impact to our coastlines it fails to pass the test of acceptable risk or any provide any benefit that would outweigh the tremendous dangers posed to the economic engines that drive Florida.Our economy in Florida is grounded in clean healthy coastlines that are the backbone of our 65 billion dollar a year tourist economy. In the absence of a state income tax revenue generated by tourism represents a large section of our state budget. Everything from recreational fishing to wildlife viewing produce billions in economic activity. Attendance at regional beaches and coastal parks is in the millions each year. Clean beaches, turquoise waters, and coastal recreation are essential to Florida’s economic future and these resources and their use employ almost a million Floridians.States make choices as to how to use and manage their coastlines. Florida has historically made the decision to manage and protect our coastlines to maximize coastal development, coastal tourism, and recreational use of coastal resources. Additionally Florida has conserved and placed in public ownership large sections of the Gulf Coast of Florida, particularly in the Nature Coast, and protected coastal marshes, seagrass beds, and estuaries. As you well know these resources are critical to healthy commercial and recreational fisheries.The routine pollution from offshore oil and gas drilling, the associated coastal infrastructure, and the potential damage to both economic and environmental resources makes drilling unacceptable off the coast of Florida.Additionally the critical and growing training needs of the United States military off the Gulf Coast of Florida are at risk if drilling and its related infrastructure is allowed to occur off the coast of Florida. Florida is a proud leader in terms of the number of military facilities and bases in our state. As other regions have been lost to the military in terms of training areas and opportunities Florida has stepped up and major and critical training occurs off both of Florida’s coasts. The safety of those being trained, and those who will eventually rely on them when they are sent into harm’s way is not negotiable. Drilling poses a direct threat to this training, training that is essential to national security.Lastly, this issue has been debated and discussed by Congress and addressed and solved. As you know in 2006 Congress passed compromise legislation, under the leadership of Senator Nelson, and United States Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, that both opened up new areas of Lease Area 181 to expanded exploration, drilling, and leasing in return for protections ranging off the coast of Florida from 125 to 230 miles. This legislation represented a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, the military, oil drilling proponents, and conservation and coastal tourism organizations. This legislation still has over a decade until it expires.I respectfully ask that you allow this legislation to run its course, and defer to Senator Nelson in terms of what is best for Florida, our coastlines, and our future.Respectfully Submitted,Col. Joseph A. MurphyUnited State Army, Retired

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