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CEPD to address Lee County Delegation on offshore drilling

By Staff | Dec 9, 2009

The Captiva Erosion Prevention District will be attending the Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15 to address the organization’s concerns about the issue of offshore drilling in Florida’s coastal waters.

At the monthly meeting of the Captiva Community Panel, CEPD chairman Mike Mullins gave a presentation about the potentially harmful effects of oil drilling off Florida’s coast and extended an invitation for concerned Captivans to attend the meeting and make their voices heard.

“Some of you may know that last year the House rushed through at the last minute and approval of offshore drilling off the coast of Florida in state waters. Fortunately, the Senate decided there wasn’t enough time to debate so they didn’t hear it, so it didn’t move forward last year. We’re hoping that the Senate will be able to kill it,” Mullins said.

“We’re speaking to our State Representatives and our House members next Tuesday. If you can come and support us there, I think it will be very important,” Mullins said.

Mullins’ presentation referenced of theme of Florida’s white gold – or clean, sandy beaches – versus black gold – oil drilling.

“There are two themes that are really being pushed by the oil companies. On the one hand, the lobbyists are trying to say beach nourishment is all a waste of taxpayer’s money. They’re also pushing the idea that drilling delivers solid solutions to Florida’s economic and social issues,” Mullins said.

He referenced the importance of beach renourishment as a necessary component of Florida tourism, noting that while some politicians and lobbyists call nourishment “wasteful,” keeping Florida beaches in pristine conditions is crucial to a healthy tourism economy.

In addition, Mullins believes that Florida’s “economic engine runs better without oil and gas exploration.”

“For example, in 2007, tourism alone on a State tax revenue basis generated $1 billion in Florida. In 2007, just the beach aspect of tourism created 400,000 jobs. Return on investment for State dollars as opposed to Federal dollars was eight to one, so that means that every dollar that they give us for beach nourishment throughout the State of Florida for all the endangered or critically eroded beaches, they get an $8 return in taxes. It’s not just money into the economy, but the taxes that come to the State,” Mullins said.

Mullins also addressed the increase in Captiva property values based upon the state of the beaches.

Mullins said that beach renourishment is a major part of property value on Captiva, stating that in 1985, when part of Captiva Drive became compromised due to a critically eroded beach, the total of property values on Captiva was around $221 million. After three beach renourishment projects, the property value sum has risen to a total of $1.5 billion in 2009.

“What we’re saying is, among other things, better beaches bring better business. Captiva needs legislators to protect beach benefits. We need to stop oil and gas drilling. The only way legislators will appreciate what you think and where you really come from is if we get people to show up at this legislative delegation,” Mullins said.

The Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting will be held in Taeni Hall, room S-117, at Edision State College, 8099 College Parkway.

Mullins will speak on behalf of the CEPD at approximately 2 p.m.

For more information about the CEPD’s concerns with offshore drilling, call 472-2472.