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Drilling ban’s break for us, tourism, state

There was the Norwegian helicopter pilot and his family.

Four British sun-worshippers.

An older fellow from Ohio on his annual spring fishing trip, too.

Tourists.

What brings them to mind is the Obama administration’s decision last week to let the drilling ban stand along Florida’s coastline.

A welcome decision, indeed.

One vital to our tourism industry.

Florida’s lifeblood.

Something those visitors said showed how fragile it can be.

They had come to Anna Maria Island just days after BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in April, a catastrophe that poured nearly 175 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the next five months.

Nary a drop would touch AMI’s pristine shores.

Yet it did not matter to those visitors.

Had they been able to change their plans, they’d have done so.

It was the perception of the threat that would’ve kept them away and sent them elsewhere to spend their money.

Like the Caribbean.

Or the Carolinas.

Anywhere but Florida.

Imagine if the oil from such a disaster had hit our beaches and extrapolate that eight visitors by, say, half the 80 million tourists we had in 2009.

You think the state’s economy is bad now?

We’d be crippled.

Which is why I have to laugh at the predictable reaction to the drilling ban by two of our state’s elected leaders .

An obstacle to job creation, Sen.-elected Marco Rubio called it.

A job-killing policy, said Florida state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne.

You want a real job killer?

Allow drilling off our coast, have a blowout and see what happens.

Tourism is Florida.

A $65-billion industry.

Jeopardizing that for an estimated $700 million in oil drilling revenue is bad business.

Drilling in the eastern Gulf is not going to reduce prices at the pump or lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

It is not even close.

In 2009, an investigative report stated, “the total estimated reserves in Florida would satisfy the U.S. demand for oil -- about 20 million barrels daily -- for less than a week.”

Who ordered the report?

The Florida Senate.

Opponents to the drilling ban also cite “national security” concerns.

It makes us “more dependent on foreign oil from hostile regimes,” Rubio said.

The notion of Uncle Sam ever being oil independent is a pipe dream.

Too much money is being made. In the real world of global geopolitics, Big Oil calls the shots.

It does not recognize national borders.

All it recognizes is its revenue streams and ways to maximize them. Like drilling off our shores.

Thankfully, the ban prevents that through 2017 at least.

Good for us.

Good for tourists.

Good for Florida.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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