Oil industry lobbies to drill eastern Gulf of Mexico

August 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — Florida would be showered with thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of tax revenue over the next two decades if the federal government would quit standing in the way of energy exploration, the oil industry claims.

The lure of jobs and money is part of a pitch to Congress to open much of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to rigs, just five years after the titanic Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

A former economist for the Energy Department and even some drilling boosters say the industry’s projections of jobs and revenue are greatly inflated. But the lobbying is making headway.

“I honestly think some of these industry reports are inflated by an order of magnitude 10 times greater than what’s actually there,” said Frank Alcock, a former Energy Department economist and now associate professor of political science at New College of Florida.

“This is not something that’s going to be a boon to job creation, especially for Floridians,” Alcock said. “Really, it’s just extending drilling operations eastward to get access to some lucrative wells.”