Is Florida’s future the same as Louisiana’s legacy?

Nancy Reagan once referred to the oil rigs off the coast of California as looking like Christmas trees during the darkened night. I like Christmas trees as much as the next American, but I prefer the Gulf Coast of Florida to stay dark, inspiring, and mysterious in the evening. The open and majestic horizon, bathed in the glow of a Florida sunset, gradually transitions to the dark night and one can get a sense of the awe and wonder those who came before us felt before we lit up the night sky. It is a link we have to previous generations, and a link we need to keep with future generations.I propose that when we set public policy in Florida from this point forward we use a simple test: Are we ensuring that our grandchildren will know the Florida our grandparents did? If we cannot meet that standard, our public policy is flawed and unsustainable. My grandparents knew a Florida coast free of oil rigs. My grandchildren should as well.One of my first memories is learning to fish and crab with my Grandpa in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My parents taught me to swim in the warm, salty waters of the Gulf. I remember the sunshine, the sandy beach, and the pure joy of that day. That is my children’s birthright as Floridians. It is their natural heritage. Recently the Obama Administration announced their intention to open vast new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the south to mid Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas development. This is a profound and unacceptable step in the wrong direction. Our national energy future is too valuable to simply consign to the outdated and ineffective policies of the past. A bold, new energy future which we should demand and expect from the Obama Administration, has to be forward looking and at a minimum not be based in deepening the hole of climate change by expanding oil and gas drilling.Florida is a state where our economy and our coastal environment are one in the same. Our world class tourism and fishing industries, that collectively bring billions of dollars a year to Florida and employ close to one million people, depend completely on clean, healthy coastlines. Now the threat to Florida is bi-coastal. The Obama Administration proposes to dramatically increase potential leasing along the Atlantic Coast of Florida, as well as gut hard fought and important protections for the Gulf Coast of Florida. Our country, can, and must do better.Let’s drill in Washington D.C. and get a real, vibrant national energy policy based in the future and sustainability. Let’s pass a national Climate Change bill that is not the result of a tradeoff that actually, in expanding oil and gas drilling, expands release of climate change contributors.Let’s drill in Detroit and Tokyo and at great long last get a full range of choices as vehicle consumers that will dramatically increase fuel economy. There are solutions within our grasp that don’t rely on the best of bad choices, or recycling the failed policies of the past.The Gulf of Mexico is dying the death of 1000 cuts. Our natural resources, our children’s future, and the very resource that brought or keeps so many of us in the Gulf South is imperiled by numerous threats. Expanding drilling off the coast of Florida and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico means more pollution, more spills, and more loss. I’m hoping President Obama and Congress come to their senses and protects the very economic and environmental resources Florida depends on for our future. Our grandchildren deserve no less.

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