Here is the second important issue facing us on November 6th. This has national implications and we, again, have an opportunity to make a difference.
We have to protect the eastern Gulf of Mexico from oil and gas drilling.
The eastern Gulf of Mexico is used by our military for test and training. Our Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines must be able to simulate threat scenarios and train to fight against them. This testing and training is critical to our national security. If oil & gas drilling is allowed, military test & training will drastically decline.
The Pentagon said the following in their 2018 report to Congress:
“The Eastern Gulf of Mexico Test & Training Range is an irreplaceable national asset. No other area offers the Department of Defense a comparable combination of air space, water space and existing infrastructure to support military activities.”
And another thing - jobs will be lost.
What about tourism?
- In 2017, the military economic impact for the state of Florida was over $85 Billion and 802,000 jobs.
- Eglin Air Force Base is the largest base in the Department of Defense.
- The military installations in Okaloosa County are the #1 economic engine and generate additional employment by attracting defense contracting firms to the area.
- The defense-related spending in the County creates employment and investments and continues to multiply as it circulates throughout the region’s economy.
- The annual economic impact of the military presence in Okaloosa County is $9B with over 72,000 jobs.
The test & training range is the largest in the continental United States - over 460 miles long, extending from Northwest Florida down to Key West.
Tourism is the other main economic engine for our area. Do we want oil and gas drilling within a few miles of our crystal white beaches? Will tourists still want to come spend their hard earned dollars in our community if unsightly oil rigs suddenly appear on our pristine horizon?
Here is what Amendment 9 says:
- Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. (9 nautical miles or 12 miles)
- Prohibits use of vapor-generating electronic devices of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances.
While Amendment 9 alone won’t take the entirety of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico off the table for oil drilling / exploration, a resounding YES vote would send a clear message to the federal government to protect this vital national security and economic asset.
Let’s do our part to support our military and national security. Our military is fighting for us.