Ken Welch: offshore drilling not the answer listen10/29/09 Seán Kinane
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At last night’s offshore oil drilling forum in Tallahassee, drilling advocate David Rancourt, with the Southern Strategy Group, was asked who is backing the plan. A group calling itself Florida Energy Associates is mostly anonymous. Rancourt defended the anonymity of the investors, by pointing to the surreptitious nature with which Disney purchased thousands of acres of land under the names of shadow groups in order to not tip people off to their intentions.
Rancourt: "Lance Phillips out of the Dallas, Texas area has come forward as the leader of our group. Doug Daniels from Daytona Beach, Florida is also a leader of our group and the CLO of the operation. There are others in the group who choose to be anonymous for a lot of reasons. I am very proud of the people I represent; they are all from America. They are all God-fearing, tax-paying citizens as I have said. Some of them however want to remain anonymous for the time being. All of them are willing to put their names forward, when the day a bid goes in, for the opportunity to lease land in Florida. We are not trying to hide anything in the long run, but we don't want to tip anything to our competitors; where we are interested in exploring, because this industry follows that. I will also submit to you; I do not know who is funding the efforts of our opposition."
Rancourt suggested that nominal enemies like Hugo Chavez and Middle East and OPEC nations would benefit if Florida retained its ban on offshore fossil fuel drilling. But the total amount of reserves off of Florida’s coasts is not expected to make much of a dent in global fossil fuel supplies.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch was one of the six panelists. Like most other Pinellas politicians and civic groups, Welch opposes lifting the ban on drilling off the coasts of Florida. Welch said, quote, “the answer is not drilling three miles off of our shores.”
Welch: "I would ask the proponents why they dont drill in the 75% of the area where they can drill right now in the Gulf. Second of all, President Barack Obama was here yesterday in Arcadia at an FPL solar farm the largest in the nation. Alternative energy has to be part of our energy independence; we cannot drill our way out of this problem when we produce 3% of the worlds oil and consume 25% of it. Alternative energy, be it wind, solar, or nuclear, I support as well; as well as smarter more efficient vehicles. Hybrid technology, fuel-cell, all of that has to be part of that mix."