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FL Environmental Groups: More Solar, Not Offshore Drilling

Florida utilities are expanding their solar inventory as they meet goals for lowering emissions. (Pixabay)
Florida utilities are expanding their solar inventory as they meet goals for lowering emissions. (Pixabay)
August 21, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The American Petroleum Institute is trying to convince coastal states, including Florida, to "Explore Offshore." But environmental groups say the new campaign to get Florida to open its shores for oil drilling does not present the right fit for the Sunshine State.

“Explore Offshore” is the new slogan aimed at selling states on the benefits of offshore drilling - including more jobs, more state revenue and national economic security and stability. However, environmental groups argue those supposed benefits are at odds with the economic and ecological damage that comes from spills like the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 that resulted in the largest marine oil spill in history.

Bonnie Malloy is senior associate attorney with the environmental legal group Earthjustice.

"The risk that it brings for Florida's coastal environments and our economy is just way too big to chance,” Malloy said. “And solar is a clean renewable energy and, for the state of Florida, seems to be just a logical choice for our future."

The Sunshine State ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, behind California and Texas, but falls to 12th for installations, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp co-chairs Explore Offshore. The state never has allowed oil and natural gas drilling off its shores, but the coalition continues to pressure policymakers to reconsider.

Malloy said the continued reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable.

"We need to be looking to clean, renewable energy sources, which is basically going to dramatically impact their bottom line,” she said. “So I can just only assume that they're trying to steer us away from the future."

Explore Offshore is spreading its campaign in coastal states such as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It's focusing on the Southeast because of the region’s existing infrastructure and high oil reserves.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL