Point out an oil spill would decimate South Florida’s tourism economy
13 January 2021
As oil drilling continues in Bahamian waters, South Florida and Atlantic Coast business leaders are joining the chorus of voices calling on The Government of The Bahamas to put a stop to offshore oil drilling. Having just seen the US federal government ban offshore drilling in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, businesses are alarmed at the possibility of new oil drilling allowed as close as 50 miles off Florida’s coast. Experts predict a Bahamian oil disaster could impact the Atlantic seaboard, and result in severe effects in the neighboring Caribbean Sea.
“An oil spill in The Bahamas could absolutely devastate Miami’s coastal economy. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was from an exploratory well which is the same type being pursued in The Bahamas. We encourage all South Florida business owners and our government leaders to ask the Bahamian Prime Minister to recognize our shared interest in protecting our economy and ban dirty and dangerous offshore drilling,” stated Jerry Libbin, President and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber’s board chair Robin Jacobs added, “The Chamber’s Board of Governors has a long-standing position in opposition to offshore drilling that could impact the coast of South Florida and severely damage our fragile tourism economy.” The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce represents the majority of the businesses that make up the economic engine in Miami Beach and our surrounding area.
Others pointed to the irony of banning offshore drilling in the US only to have the issue resurface nearby. “We have worked tirelessly to protect the Atlantic Coast and our coastal economy from destructive drilling, only to have our progress threatened by decisions from our neighbors in The Bahamas,” said Tom Kies, president of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of the Business Alliance Protection of the Atlantic (BAPAC). “If we are remotely serious about protecting Florida and the Carolinas from oil spills, we must ask The Bahamas to stop oil exploration immediately.” BAPAC is the leading US business organization working to ensure the long-term health and economic vitality of the Atlantic seaboard. Since BAPAC’s formation in 2016, it has received the support of over 42,000 business and 500,000 commercial fishing families for the organization’s efforts to protect the US Atlantic Coast from offshore oil/gas exploration and drilling.
Finally, Tyler Zlatlin, Chief Marketing Officer for Miami-based marketing firm Ballyhoo Media added, “South Florida and the Bahamas are close neighbors and share many mutually beneficial relationships. Unfortunately, when it comes to offshore oil drilling in the narrow waters between our shores, we also share the danger of huge destruction to our marine ecology and local economy. Ballyhoo Media’s partnership with BREEF, Oceana, and Our Islands Our Future is meant to sound the alarm for our community and politicians on this urgent issue. We see this as performing a service for our own community as well as supporting our friends who are fighting this in The Bahamas.”
These comments from various business leaders come after Ballyhoo Media ran massive floating billboards up and down Miami beach, alerting Floridians of this impending threat and encouraging tourists to sign the www.StopBahamasOilDrilling.com petition. The petition calls on Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis to prevent an oil spill by immediately stopping all oil drilling in Bahamian waters.