As an American veteran who has served my country for many years and in many roles, I know there is an undisputable connection between energy security and national security. And, I feel strongly that we should be doing everything in our power to reduce our reliance on energy sources from foreign countries – many of which are unfriendly to the United States.
For more than 25 years, we have been sending our servicemen and servicewomen to the Middle East to engage in combat operations and security missions (costing us dearly in American lives) partly due to the free world’s dependence on the energy resources located there. It troubles me that we are putting lives at stake to secure this area because of our reliance on foreign oil and natural gas when we have untapped energy resources in our noble USA.
Earlier this week in Fort Walton Beach, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a hearing on its draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Gulf of Mexico Geological and Geophysical Surveys. This was the only hearing they held in Florida and I felt compelled to take part in it because of the impacts it could ultimately have on our nation’s energy policy.
Included in this draft environmental impact statement are restrictions that would reduce the number of seismic surveys performed in the Gulf of Mexico. Seismic surveys are almost like an ultrasound or MRI of the Earth’s crust. They use sound waves to help scientists map the ocean floor and geology beneath it. Compressed air released into the water creates sound waves that bounce off rock layers beneath the surface to help create 3D maps of what energy resources lie below the ocean floor.
Seismic surveys are a proven, environmentally sound technology. They are needed in the Gulf of Mexico to gather updated and more accurate information. The information we are working off now is more than 30 years old and wasn’t generated using the latest technology.
While seismic surveys are a necessary prelude to the development of offshore oil reserves, they’re not a commitment to development. They’re simply a means of gaining the information we need to make informed decisions and save lives. Utilizing more advanced technology to better understand our options is only a first step, but it’s an important first step we must take.
The federal government is currently seeking feedback on seismic surveying. I urge other veterans and all Floridians to get involved by voicing your support for this technology that will enable us to see exactly what resources might be available to our country. Becoming energy independent through cutting-edge, safe technology will strengthen our country and ensure a better quality of life for the good of all: our families, communities and humanity.
Lt. Col. Dennis Freytes, United States Army (Ret.), is co-chair of Florida Vets4Energy, a group of volunteer veterans who continue to serve America as advocates for energy policies to sustain our national security.