Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FIRST THEY CAME FOR FLORIDA, NEXT THEY’LL COME FOR YOU: Sunshine State legislature opens door to oil offshore drilling

What’d you do this past week? I put together a couple of stories on the Atlantic City offshore oil public hearing to print in mags later this summer. In fact, I literally filed the second one an hour ago. The idea was to rally any cave-dwelling surfers who still don’t go online -- all those bearded Dan-Malloy-Rasta-bes? They’re actually Amish . . .sssshh -- and make sure they bust out the old quill and ink, unleash the carrier pigeons and fire up their elected officials at least as much as the Oil Interests grease them down.

Then , minutes after I pressed send, I got the news that Florida’s state legislature, voted 70 to 43 on a fast-track bill along party lines that allows the governor and Cabinet to open the door to oil drilling off Florida's coast.

“Great oily seabirds, Batman!” I shouted (No, wait, that was Robin.) But I did yell a few fowl words. Then I started to ponder what to do next:

1. Wipe my brow that I no longer live in Florida. (Did that ten years ago.)

2. Start picking which surf spots I’d rather see get ruined. (Sorry, 2nd Light….oh wait, that’s right, a bad beach fill plan took care of that years ago.)

3. Curl up in a ball, suck my thumb and pray it’ll all go away.

Then, as I was grabbing my binkie, I figured I’d better read the story firsthand. That’s when I and came across this piece saying, ”Gov. Charlie Crist and Senate leaders put the brakes on a bill to open the door to near-shore oil drilling off Florida's coast . . .”

Phew! More brow wiping (And a few other less than savory areas.) But we shouldn’t feel heartened, we should feel scared. Terrified, even. First, because right now, this same scenario is playing in every East Coast and Gulf Coast state, as well as California and Alaska.

Second, because Gov. Crist isn’t anti-drilling per se, he just figured allowing a “Drill, baby, drill” free-for-all within 3 to 10 miles of shore at the end of a legislative session, might be a little too . . .hasty. (Wuss.) They could just as easily pick it up again next time.

And most importantly, because, most surfers really do follow those first three steps any time any break is threatened for any reason. First, we say, “thank god, it’s not my spot.” Then we secretly pray if something’s gonna happen, it happens to a break we don’t like. And then we stick our heads in the nearest sandbar.

But we don’t have to. For once, we could see this incident as a real warning sign of what’s to come. We could even act by turning up the heat on our elected officials – and others.

So, Tell Gov. Crist he’s right to be worried and to say no to oil . . . period. Then, do the same for your own State.

And, for those of you still think we should be drilling, go back and read the Florida story to see just how this whole scenario played out. It’s all Texas oilmen, ‘energy freedom seekers,’ and suckers bets like dangling $75 million in ‘clean energy’ kickbacks out of billions in oil revenue— which still pales when you consider Florida’s out-of-state beach tourists spent $19.1 billion in 2003 (equal to 3.8 percent of the gross state product.) They also spent $600 million in states sales tax and created 500,000 jobs.

Do all that math and see if it adds up. Now factor in the 1.8 billion barrels we export daily on our road to ‘energy independence.’ Compare it to the amount of jobs created by renewable energy (3:1 compared to oil.) And then ask yourself: if offshore petroleum is such an easy fit for coastal states – how come their proponents always use so much grease?

Speaking of grease, this whole blog spiel is just a slick way of conning surfers into taking the the Surf-First survey so we can save our breaks down the line. So, if you haven’t yet, please “Fill, baby, fill” after your next session.

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