"It's like a kick in the face" says Jonathan Ruiz of Florida International University. Jonathan campaigned for Obama for fourteen months, and now he's livid about today's announcement by the administration to open half the east coast to offshore drilling.
"I was born near Florida's Emerald Gulf Coast," says Graham Penniman of University of Central Florida. "The memories that I have on those beaches brings me so much joy, that every night I fall asleep thinking about the moons' reflection across the water. To imagine my beach any other way destroys my heart."
Why are these Florida university students mad? They are being sold out by the Obama administration in a misguided attempt to curry political favor. From the New York Times:
"The proposal -- a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations -- would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean."
Youth, the millennial generation so inspired by Obama to vote in record numbers, have the most to lose from the expansion of drilling. Even some coastal governors and senators will be angry about the announcement because of the small amount of oil and huge environmental risks. If white-haired governors and senators are worried, what about young people who are thinking about protecting this coastline for us and our children, long after the tiny amounts of energy have been extracted?
Obama inspired our generation to turn out to the polls, and he can do it again if he moves to actually inspire us. But youth across the South East have longer memories than this short-sighted political thinking. Under this proposal the first lease sales for drilling would be held in 2012, a year that Obama will be hoping to connect with us and convince us he stands for our interests. If young people don't believe him, they aren't going to be inspired to vote. That's not change we can believe in.
We aren't going to take this. A protest is planned for an event in Florida today where Newt Gingrich will be promoting drilling. Never mind that he needs to entice people to come with free "Drill Here Drill Now Pay Less" bumper stickers to the first 1000 RSVPs, this event shows how dangerously aligned the Obama administration is getting to the industry-cheerleading GOP.
Let's really listen to Megan Maloney at the University of Central Florida when she says, "As a young America citizen I am fearful for my future because of Obama's decision of pursuing more offshore drilling off our coasts." And Keziyah Lewis of Florida State University points to the DOE report on the cost of actually extracting that energy to say "obviously offshore oil drilling just doesn't make sense when you compare the cost of infrastructure, research, etc, to the amount of fuel that is attainable, it's like throwing money down the toilet."
President Obama, Ken Salazar and the rest of your teams, hear us loud and clear: young people oppose offshore drilling.
"I understand that they want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but why not reduce our dependence on oil all together. Our tax dollars are being used to drill for something that will just disappear. It is a triple negative; we use oil to run the machines that drill for that oil that we then use to fuel our lives. What kind of generation will we be viewed as if we destroy our oceans just because we want a year or two of independence from other countries? We need to stop worrying about only ourselves and think about our children and grandchildren, how is this going to effect them, what are they going to do when all our oil is gone? Why are we investing in something that can just disappear when we can put our money towards something that can last a lifetime." Amanda Glaze, University of West Florida