By Juan Montalvo, JMI Intern & FSU Senior, Economics
Last fall, the Capital City Tiger Bay Club featured a debate on offshore drilling along Florida’s Gulf Coast of Florida. Barney Bishop of Associated Industries of Florida and Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff traded jabs and articulated their reasoning on why or why not Florida should utilize its offshore natural resources.Many of the typical arguments were exchanged; however, one attendee asked a question that is in the mind of all Florida Gulf Coast residents: will offshore drilling increase the number of “tar balls” on Gulf beaches?Bishop answered with a resounding “no”. In fact currently, in the absence of drilling, there are tar balls on Florida’s Gulf beaches, though not to the same degree as beaches in coastal Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. These tar balls are the result of the natural seepage of oil through the ocean floor.Bishop further elaborated, citing studies in California that found that the pressure which caused seepage was diminished by the concentrated removal of oil supply through drilling platforms. Thus, oil drilling will alleviate pressure in offshore oil deposits and help prevent an increase in the number of tar balls on Gulf beaches.