Florida Oil Drilling Threatens Tourism Industry and Ocean Ecosystem

Santa Barbara, CA

Jean-Michel Cousteau expresses serious concern over near-shore oil drilling off Florida's coasts.

With a legislative proposal pending in the Florida Senate to break a twenty-year ban on near-shore oil drilling off Florida's coasts, Jean-Michel Cousteau, President of Ocean Futures Society, is making an appeal to state legislators to continue to ban drilling, even in these difficult economic times.

"Many jurisdictions are desperately looking for additional sources of revenue now, but to risk both the ocean ecosystem and the tourism industry in Florida with the heightened possibility of an oil spill and an industrialized coastline is economically irresponsible in the long-term," according to Cousteau.

"Ironically, Florida legislators are proposing to change what has attracted tourists to the state in the first place. The Florida tourism brand is sustained by a healthy ecosystem. So to potentially sacrifice popular coastlines seems foolish," he added.

Even though some studies show that there is more risk of oil spills from ship accidents and tanker collisions than from oil drilling platforms, the risk to Florida's beaches, protected in this area for the past two decades, still exists.

"The oil drilled must be transported in hurricane-prone waters and that means a greater risk from the hazards we have identified. Most Floridians have vivid memories of Hurricane Andrew that would have compromised any oil platform. Add to that the three direct-hit hurricanes of a very recent hurricane season and recent technological advances in oil drilling safety techniques haven't eliminated the oil spill threat," Jean-Michel noted.

In talks with Friends of Florida's Coasts Will Graves, Jean-Michel agreed to produce a Public Service Announcement on this subject in the near future.