Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gulf Coast Family Businesses Join Sierra Club to Say: 'We’re Worth 3 Times More Than All the Oil You Could Drill For In The Gulf'

Kathleen McDole, President of the Friendly Fisherman restaurant at Madeira Beach's John's Pass Village, explains
why she opposes oil & gas drilling in the eastern Gulf as her siblings, Mark Hubbard and Patricia Hubbard, look on.

In the long debate over offshore drilling, the oil industry and some policy makers have claimed that our tax base and coastal jobs rely on expanding oil and gas drilling to new places. However, one critical set of issues has largely been ignored: the potentially devastating economic losses that new offshore drilling could create for our existing coastal economies and the undeniably real potential for damage to our treasured coasts and marine resources.

Today Sierra Club and Environment Florida released a new report,
"Too Much At Stake: Don't Gamble With Our Coasts" that objectively quantifies the relative value of our current coastal assets: coastal tourism, real estate and recreational and commercial fishing, and compares it to the estimated value of oil and gas reserves in the eastern Gulf. The report documents that on Florida’s Gulf Coast, these existing sustainable businesses are worth 3 times more than all the oil & gas we ever could drill for in the eastern Gulf. 
Standing with us at John’s Pass Village to tell our story were representatives of our coastal business community, examples of the largely locally owned family businesses that employ 335,000 Floridians and drive our state’s economy with revenues of $33 billion annually on Florida’s Gulf Coast:
  • Robin Grabowski, President, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce
  • Patricia Hubbard, CFO, John’s Pass Village
  • Kathleen Hubbard McDole, President, Friendly Fisherman restaurant
  • Capt. Mark Hubbard, Hubbard’s Marina, John’s Pass Village, Madeira Beach
  • Doreen Moore, Total Realty Services, Madeira Beach
  • Capt. Travis J. Palladino, Live Wire Fishing Charters of Madeira Beach
John’s Pass Village is tourist destination at Madeira Beach whose shops, restaurants, charter and commercial fishing encompasses all our coastal business segments in one location. The Village has been the home of four generations of the Hubbard family who work together at the fishing village founded by Mark, Patricia and Kathleen’s grandfather.

Also joining us were Shirley Miaoulis for Congressman Bill Young and Shahra Anderson, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Regional Director, two leaders who've worked together in a bi-partisan way for many years to defend Florida’s Gulf from the threat of drilling.

Last year oil lobbyists blitzed our state claiming we could have our cake and eat it too – we could add new jobs in drilling and (mostly) refineries on our coasts to the jobs we already have.  We only have to look at the immense damage that the BP Deepwater Horizon spill did to the Gulf of Mexico’s fishing, tourism and wildlife to recognize what impact drilling would have on our or any other coast.

The Sierra Club applauds the President for changing his mind and agreeing with us that drilling in the eastern Gulf is not worth the risk to our coastal jobs. We are alarmed, however, by the denunciations of the President’s decision by Governor-elect Rick Scott, U.S. Senator-elect Marco Rubio, and State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who all called it a “job-killing” mistake.

The Sierra Club is proud to join Gulf business leaders in calling on our new leadership in Tallahassee to not make the mistake of attempting to grow our state’s economy in a way that would put our primary source of employment in jeopardy. While our federal waters in the eastern Gulf are safe for now, our state territorial waters, 3-10 miles off America’s Best Beaches, may now face their greatest risk. Neither the Sierra Club nor the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, and the 500 businesses the Chamber represents, will idly stand by to allow these newcomers to power destroy the irreplaceable assets that make Florida’s Gulf Coast an environmental and economic treasure for our state.

But don't take my word for it: Listen to (or just read) WUSF's story on today's press conference:

Phil Compton, Field Organizer
Sierra Club Florida, St. Petersburg