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Panel OKs resolution against offshore drilling

By Staff | Dec 9, 2009

During the December meeting of the Captiva Community Panel, panel members approved a resolution opposing the approval of oil drilling in Florida’s waters in areas other than those already approved for oil leasing and exploration.

The resolution drew attention to the fact that the Panel was formed to foster discussion and consensus on issues that directly affect the way of life on Captiva and its residents, business owners and property owners.

The CEPD resolution also stated that preserving the natural resources of Captiva’s beaches, waterways, marine environment and fragile ecology and tourist-based economy are “a vital part of the Panel’s mission” and, as such, existing data and experience have made it clear to the Panel that offshore oil exploration and drilling is “clearly incompatible with healthy beaches and coastal ecosystems due to the risk of spills, contaminated byproducts, and destruction of underwater infrastructure.”

The closing paragraph of the resolution states, in part, “We strongly encourage all elected officials at the county, state and federal levels to oppose legislative attempts to allow offshore oil drilling expansion past the areas already approved for preleasing, leasing and oil production activities, and to take immediate steps to encourage and assist in the development of alternative sources of energy.”

While three members were absent, the motion to approve the resolution passed unanimously, 7-0.

Captiva Erosion Prevention District chairman Mike Mullins was also present at the panel meeting. He said that the CEPD submitted a resolution in April and is encouraging all organizations who oppose offshore drilling to do the same.

“Even before the presentation that Mike Mullins made, we knew that drilling could be bad,” said Community Panel member Rene Miville. “But Mike’s presentation really showed just how drastic the effects could be on our economy, even for communities that are pretty far from the shoreline.”

Over the past several months, members of the City Council on Sanibel have debated whether or not to take a stand on the issue of offshore drilling. State Senator Garrett Richter and State Representative Gary Aubuchon attended the council’s Dec. 1 meeting, noting that both were “willing to listen” to both sides of the offshore drilling debate before determining their status, either for or against.

“Clearly, the key issue for all of the Gulf Coast communities is offshore drilling,” Aubuchon said last week. “I was opposed to (drilling) last year, but this year I’m approaching it with an open mind. We need to weigh all of the facts before we make any decision.”

“I do believe that offshore drilling will be a lively topic of discussion during our upcoming legislative session,” Richter added. “The key issue that it’s going to come down to is the economy versus the environment.”

For more information about offshore drilling and how it would affect Captiva’s shorelines, contact the CEPD at 472-2472.