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Offshore drilling opposition meets on Sanibel, supporters say no harm will come

Groups are fighting to stop the federal government from opening up the Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling. They want to keep our environment safe, but supporters promise they won’t do harm.

In hopes of keeping waters clean, folks gathered on Sanibel to learn more about offshore drilling Monday.

“The federal offshore drilling is still in play,” Said Hunter Miller, who is a Florida Gulf Coast campaign organizer with Oceana. “Our beaches, our coastline, our tourism industry, our wildlife is still at risk.”

Groups such as Oceana and Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation fear the Gulf Coast isn’t in the clear when it comes to offshore drilling.

“It’s certainly important here where we’ve already experienced these traumatic events of the last year — these terrible water quality events, said Ryan Orgera, the CEO of Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Florida Petroleum Council released a statement ensuring offshore drilling can be done successfully without harming the natural environment.

“The U.S. — with its strict environmental regulations and safety policies, coupled with industry’s best practices and advanced technologies — is better positioned than other nations to safely and responsibly develop its offshore energy,” said David Mica, the executive director or Florida Petroleum Council in a statement.

Steven Schulz on Sanibel believes our country still has enough resources elsewhere before drilling would need to be done out in the Gulf.

“I think we have enough oil reserves and get oil from other places that we don’t have to do offshore drilling,” Schulz said.

Oil and gas leases in the Gulf are slated to come up for sale in 2020.

There is a moratorium on drilling and exploration in the Eastern Gulf that will expire in 2022 unless it’s permanently extended.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to permanently ban drilling in the eastern Gulf. It’s now in the Senate’s hand.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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