2007 Industry Outlook
The corn ethanol craze will continue in 2007. But some scientists say the state may someday be able to produce all the ethanol it needs using homegrown biomass — from sugar cane to wood waste.
Drilling the Gulf
What a difference a war in Iraq and steep gas prices make. Florida residents, businesspeople and politicians long opposed oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. But last month, with bipartisan support of Florida lawmakers and public opinion running in favor, Congress opened 8.3 million acres of the Gulf to oil and gas exploration.The region holds some 1.3 billion barrels of oil.
Florida's Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson helped craft the compromise, which establishes a no-drill zone 125 miles from the Panhandle and 235 miles from Florida's west coast.
"It was not what we wanted by a long, long, long shot, but it's a baby step in the right direction," says David Mica, director of the Florida Petroleum Council.
Environmentalist fear the step could lead to more drilling in the Gulf, such as the natural-gas-rich Destin Dome off Pensacola. "Long term, we need to look at some of the resource-rich, closer-in areas," Mica says.