Bascom Palmer welcomes Dr. Zelia M. Correa as co-director of Ocular Oncology

Dr. Zelia M. Correa

Zelia M. Correa, M.D., Ph.D., one of the country’s leading experts in the field of ocular oncology, has joined Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as codirector of the ocular oncology service.

Recognized throughout the world for her expertise in ocular oncology, Dr. Correa specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye tumors such as ocular melanoma, retinoblastoma, ocular metastasis, and choroidal hemangioma.

Ocular oncologists are highly specialized ophthalmic surgeons who diagnose and treat tumors and pseudo-tumors of the eye. Ocular tumors can be benign or malignant and affect patients ranging from young children to older adults. Treatment of these tumors involves various forms of laser and radiation therapy, intraocular injections, delicate biopsy procedures, and advanced microsurgical techniques.

Dr. Correa most recently served as the Tom Clancy Endowed Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. In this position, she built an excellent ocular oncology program that has drawn patients from across the U.S. and throughout the world. She previously served as professor of ophthalmology and Mary Knight Asbury Chair of Ophthalmic Pathology & Ocular Oncology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

“Dr. Correa’s career has been characterized by outstanding accomplishments, not only in the field of ocular oncology, but also in vitreoretinal surgery, ophthalmic pathology, and medical education,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., professor and director of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “Her extraordinary interdisciplinary expertise will significantly benefit the care of patients who come to Bascom Palmer from around the world,” added Dr. Alfonso, who holds the Kathleen and Stanley J. Glaser Chair in Ophthalmology.

Dr. Correa’s research focuses on the use of artificial intelligence to distinguish benign from malignant ocular tumors based on imaging characteristics. She will conduct her research at Bascom Palmer’s ocular oncology laboratory. “Dr. Correa is one of the leading authorities on ocular oncology, and her recruitment to Bascom Palmer will allow us to achieve our ambitious goal of creating the foremost international destination for patients with eye tumors,” said J. William Harbour, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, vice chair for translational research, director of the Bascom Palmer ocular oncology service, holder of the Mark J. Daily Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, and associate director for basic science at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Harbour’s world-renowned ocular oncology laboratory focuses on the use of genetic and genomic technology, bioinformatics, and genetically modified experimental models to better understand and treat major forms of eye cancer, including uveal melanoma and retinoblastoma.

“Dr. Correa is widely recognized for her clinical expertise, surgical skills, and devotion to her patients,” Dr. Harbour added. “Her talents will be critical to our ability to provide for the needs of our rapidly expanding number of ocular oncology patients who come to Bascom Palmer from throughout Florida, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and across the globe.”
A native of Brazil, Dr. Correa received a medical degree from the Faculdade de Medicina de São José do Rio Preto (Brazil) followed by a residency in ophthalmology at the Faculdade de Medicina de Marília (Brazil). She received a doctorate in philosophy at the Federal University of São Paulo (Brazil) and completed four fellowships: vitreo-retinal surgery at the Hospital do Olho Rio Preto (Brazil); ocular oncology and ophthalmic pathology at Wills Eye Hospital; and experimental ophthalmic pathology at McGill University (Canada).

Her academic career includes more than 150 peer-reviewed original scientific publications, book chapters and abstracts. She currently serves as a member of the editorial boards of JAMA Ophthalmology and Translational Vision Science Technology Journal, and is the ocular oncology section editor for EyeNet magazine.

Dr. Correa plays a leadership role in the education of ophthalmologists both in the U.S. and internationally. Her educational focus has been on two separate areas: graduate medical education, where she served as director of medical education at the University of Cincinnati, and post-graduate medical education, where she has taught ophthalmology residents and retina/ocular oncology fellows for more than two decades in classrooms, patient clinics and operating rooms.

Residents have elected her Faculty of the Year, and the University of Cincinnati presented her with the Dean’s Award for Education. Among her many accolades, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognized her accomplishments by naming her a “Guest of Honor” and presenting her with a Senior Achievement Award, the Special Recognition Award for Leadership Development, and the International Ophthalmologist Education Award. She also founded and has directed the leadership development program for the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) for over a decade. The PAAO recognized her efforts by presenting her with the Ambassador for Education Award and the Benjamin Boyd Humanitarian Award.

ZOOM ETIQUETTE … Evelyn Cannata

Evelyn Cannata

New terminology has entered into our  vocabulary called “Social Distancing.”  Definition, no hugging, no kisses, no handshakes. Enter the new FaceTime, ZOOM.  According to Business Daily, Zoom was a video conference system founded in 2011 by a Chinese-American, Eric Yuan, who came up with the idea while a VP of Engineering at Cisco Systems. His company had no interest in this idea, so he quit. End of story? He is now a billionaire worth $7.5B and still going strong.

Enter Etiquette By Evelyn. Yes, there is business etiquette for Zoom Business Meetings. During this pandemic, many people are entering the world of online meetings for the first time faced with the chaos of audiovisuals, mute, unmute, backdrops, and lighting. If you have never used Zoom before, click the link to download Zoom before the day of the meeting (do a trial run) and familiarize yourself with any features you may need to use on the day – video on, mute/unmute the microphone, stop/start the video, screen share, double-checking your default settings. Test your audio and video before you join a meeting. Do not wait until you enter the meeting. Position your camera correctly, making sure you are not a shadow or a bright sun. Join the meeting in a quiet area. Join 5 minutes early before the meeting starts.

Provide your name. Please do not eat or drink while on the call. Remember, you are not going to the gym, so please no gym clothes or heaven forbid, pajamas, unkempt background, a barking dog, or children yelling. There is a mute button when not talking, however, what happens frequently is that you forget to unmute when you want to speak, so your lips are moving but no sound.

TIP: Keep your audio muted automatically by going to Settings >    Audio > Mute microphone. To quickly unmute when needed, just press and hold the space bar down. Stay focused and look at the camera. Ladies, please no low cut or sheer tops. Gentlemen, no graphic tee shirts, remember, this is a business meeting. There is a “raise your hand” button, so you can “wait your turn” and not talk over people. The host should be the last to leave. One last piece of business meeting etiquette; everyone can see you staring at your phone  instead of paying attention to the video meeting. Keep your phone to the side, on mute, turned over, or even better, turn it off until after the meeting. Please do your homework, learn about other items on Zoom. Just think of a Zoom Meeting as a face-to-face meeting and conduct yourself as you would if you were all there around the conference table.

                             “Welcome to our new normals for now.”

CIVILITY HAS LEFT THE ROOM Etiquette By Evelyn Cannata

Evelyn Cannata

Civility definition: “Polite, intelligent, and respectful behavior.” Other definitions; Caring for one’s beliefs without degrading someone else in the process. In other words, “not my way or the highway,” or “giving you your rights at my expense.”

So, unfortunately, there is an increase in civility leaving the room. Social media is a prime example. Suppose you disagree with the subject matter; instead of an intellectual conversation and agreeing to disagree, there seems to be more rude, demeaning, insulting, aggressive language, and behavior.

More often than not, it seems that when uncivil behavior occurs and is not corrected or has consequences, others will most likely repeat it, and it turns ugly. When what used to be our role models in life, our teachers, celebrities, politicians, and sports stars, who behave uncivil (and get away with it) is often modeled and repeated by others and become “cool.”

A very close friend of mine and I sometimes disagree on a subject. Neither of us is possibly wrong, just different. In the end, we agree to disagree. We could yell, get angry, hold grudges as happens today, even in families, but we don’t. Different views should be able to be debated openly, honestly, and without maliciousness.

America has achieved the highest technology, education, human rights, and a high standard of living, but we are also becoming desensitized to bad behavior.

Many studies have compared students in the 1960s and ’70s and found that today’s students do not care about society’s approval of their behavior as they did a few generations ago, and in America today, our isolationism exists because of our technology, communications, and way of life; they cut out the interaction of personalization, so people become detached and self-interested.

That my friends is not good news for our society, and today, most people cannot hear an opposing view without resorting to blame hateful rhetoric, such as hate speech toward police officers, and even violence.

Unfortunately, this is not the America I knew. “If we cannot be civil, our quality of life deteriorates, society itself begins to fray, and democracy weakened. We get to the point where incivility escalates and crosses into violence.” (AARP Bulletin)…as we are witnessing.

Always remember, one person, one voice, one action, can make a difference. The neighborhood concept, the thank you note, the ethics, the manners, and the respect need to return to become the generous people, good neighbors, and, most importantly, the “America,” I knew before it is too late.

Collier County Medical Society Installs 63rd President and New Board of Directors

Collier County Medical Society (CCMS), the local professional association for physicians, is pleased to announce the installation of its 2020-2021 president and board of directors.

Dr. Rebekah Bernard began her one-year term as the 63rd CCMS president at the Medical Society’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, July 25th. Dr. Bernard is a Family Physician in a private Direct Primary Care practice. A Florida native, Dr. Bernard grew up in Clewiston, received her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida, and obtained her MD from the University of Miami. She completed her residency at Florida Hospital in Orlando, and served for 6 years in Immokalee as a National Health Service Corps Scholar. Dr. Bernard authored How to Be A Rock Star Doctor and writes a monthly blog for the Medical Economics website. She is also a national speaker on the topic of Physician Wellness and practice management.

“I am honored and humbled to accept the position of president” said Dr. Bernard. “As the community sees the medical society stepping up in our role as scientific experts, we are being increasingly looked to for a voice of authority, reason, and solace. During these difficult times, it is more important than ever that physicians come together to provide each other the support and camaraderie that we all desperately need.”

The new 2020-2021 CCMS board of directors joining Dr. Bernard are: Dr. Alejandro Perez-Trepichio, Vice President; Dr. Rebecca Smith, Treasurer; Dr. Gary Swain, Secretary; Dr. George Brinnig, Officer/Director at Large; and Drs. Zubin Pachori and Jose Baez, Directors at Large. Dr. David Wilkinson remains on the board as Immediate Past President. Ex-officio board members include April Donahue, CCMS Executive Director; Amy Howard and Jamie Weaver, DPM, CCMS Alliance Co-Presidents; and Dr. Michael Slater, Resident Physician Representative. The board members will lead CCMS in the mission to serve the needs of its physician members, so they can better serve the needs of the community.

About Collier County Medical Society

Collier County Medical Society is an organization of physicians dedicated to serving the needs of our physician members, so they can better serve the needs of the community. CCMS was founded in 1957 and over the past 60 years has grown to over 600 physician members representing all specialties. Membership is voluntary and brings together physicians who have an interest in organized medicine and share the goals of maintaining high standards of clinical care in Collier County. CCMS is affiliated  with Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

April Donahue  Executive Director

Collier County Medical Society

Foundation of Collier County Medical Society

O: (239) 435-7727  C: (239) 298-2427 /

What Has the Pandemic Taught Naples?

by Jeff Lytle

W hat has our community learned from the pandemic? I put that question to a cross-section of community leaders who made time in their busy schedules to respond.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk

Although we have not dealt with a pandemic in our lifetimes, we have learned that being prepared, as well as having a great plan and emergency response trained professionals, has been as successful as it is in other emergencies such as hurricanes and wildfires. Since January we have been working to prepare for, prevent and address COVID-19.

Our many community partnerships and the dedication of our deputies have been key to that effort.

Kamela Patton, Collier County Public Schools Superintendent

CCPS learned our students, staff and parents are resilient and adept at adjusting to a new education model in an extremely short time. Collier was one of four Florida counties, out of 67, to lead the way in virtual learning following campus closures. More than 45,000 CCPS students engaged in a flexible, online learning format for the last nine weeks of the school year.

The pandemic reinforced our firm belief in the value of community partnerships. Whether working with food banks to complement our massive meal distribution or hearing valuable guidance from the Department of Health-Collier, our families benefited from CCPS nurturing deep community roots long before the pandemic.

Paul Hiltz, CEO of NCH Healthcare System

This pandemic has been a shining example of the human spirit. The way the compassionate Naples community has come together to support each other has been nothing short of amazing. I was proud to witness first-hand how this community rallied behind our frontline workers and our staff by donating meals, masks and other resources, and even generous monetary contributions.

Prior to joining this incredible healthcare organization, I had heard about the powerful Naples community, but this has inspired me. Now more than ever, NCH Healthcare System is honored to serve our community with quality patient care.

Dr. Paul Jones, Immediate Past President of NCH Medical Staff

I think the medical community has learned how under-prepared we were for a pandemic. Initially, the guidance from the CDC and the federal government was lacking and, at times, misleading. Much of the responsibility fell to county health departments and these were terribly underfunded and didn ot have the capacity to offer significant advice, testing, contact tracing or suggestions for treatment.

On the bright side, I was very impressed with the rapidity of the response from our community health systems and the willingness of our providers to help.

We need to be better prepared at all levels for the next time, as there will be a next time.

Eileen Connolly-Keesler, CEO, Community Foundation of Collier County

When COVID-19 started, as our area’s philanthropic first responder we immediately opened a fund. But this pandemic is different from a hurricane that affects one area. We worried our donors might not be able to respond, as the crisis is worldwide. They responded to the tune of $1.5 million, proving their commitment to our community — no matter what.

As always, our nonprofits jumped into action providing boots-on-the-ground services to those in need despite health concerns of operating.

We also learned that not only can we operate remotely, but our team is persevering enough todo it well!

Michael Dalby, President/CEO, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce

While we have shown we are resilient and can carry forward, we’ve also observed, once again, how important it is to strive to diversify our economy. We need jobs beyond tourism and hospitality. We need more high-wage, high-skill jobs in emerging technologies supporting financial, legal, aerospace, health care and transportation industries. We need to offer a welcoming home to remote workers and remoted headquarters. We need to continue to support our legacy industries, and we need to take steps
to welcome sectors of our evolving 21st century economy.


Tony Ridgway, Longtime Restaurateur

If your community accepts the pandemic as real, you’ve learned to live with masks, self-quarantining, social distancing and standards of sanitization never before witnessed. If your community is one that has been ravaged by Covid-19, your fear levels have increased and hopefully the response to the pandemic has equally increased to help mitigate the issues. In each of those communities you’ve found new friends and caregivers who truly do have your backs.

Hopefully the entire community has learned to more fully appreciate the commitment to excellence and care of our healthcare workers and we have attained new levels of appreciation for our health and welfare.

Mike Reagen, retired CEO, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, and wife, Susan

While masked and walking around our neighborhood, we saw children and other people, and landscaping, that we had not previously noticed; We learned the pleasure of doing crossword puzzles from newspapers … and almost finishing them (and only cheating a little);

We used online genealogy searches of our ancestors for ideas for digital books we hope to publish for family; And we learned the whereabouts of dozens of high school classmates — after 57 years!

Brent Batten, Naples Daily News Columnist

What have we learned? Not much, I sometimes think, as I see people in stores not wearing masks.

It’s not a political statement. It’s just a preventative step. What I think we’ve learned that should pay off for our region in the long-term is the degree to which the components of our healthcare system can collaborate and cooperate. Surely, once this has passed, those new networks and relationships simply won’t go away.

Etiquette Expert Peggy Post Teaches Students to Put Their Best Foot Forward

Michele Brown, The Immokalee Foundation’s Randall Kenneth Jones, and Peggy Post on a February 2020 tour of the foundation.

How should you greet someone now that handshakes aren’t a wise move? What’s okay to say when texting – and what’s not? What are some strategies for making a good first impression?

These are a few of the many questions etiquette expert Peggy Post answered during an interactive online seminar held exclusively in June for The Immokalee Foundation’s high school students.

“Putting Your Best Foot Forward” explained the basics of etiquette, while providing tips and advice to help students make positive impressions on others and treat everyone they encounter with respect.

The great-granddaughter-in-law of etiquette authority Emily Post and the director emeritus of the Emily Post Institute, Post has been discussing etiquette for decades, penning popular magazine columns, appearing on a number of television programs, and conducting lectures and seminars around the country.

She is the author or co-author of more than a dozen etiquette books, including the 18th edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, Manners for a New World.”

Post also conducted lectures and seminars on business and wedding etiquette throughout the United States and has been interviewed by hundreds of media outlets.

Guests tour The Immokalee Foundation, including Peggy Post (back row, third from left)

During The Immokalee Foundation’s online seminar, Post instilled in students why etiquette matters.

“I hope that each student gained an appreciation of – and a passion for – the importance of etiquette,” Post said. “My wish was for each attendee to understand that being kind goes a long way toward self-respect and respect for others. Learning basic considerate behaviors and tried and-true manners for every occasion can boost your confidence. I hope, too, that everyone had fun along the way as we discussed many everyday issues.”

Post, now retired and living in Southwest Florida, was inspired to share her expertise with The Immokalee Foundation after a tour she attended in February. Her seminar was just one of the virtual experiences available for students during the summer, when the Covid-19 pandemic required changes in operations.

Using a variety of online tools and virtual experiences, these high school students continued their summer work in the foundation’s groundbreaking program, “Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed.”

An Immokalee Foundation student attends a summer professional development seminar.

Career Pathways helps prepare students for career opportunities in Southwest Florida in four primary employment sectors: Health Care, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship.

These pathways include in demand jobs with average annual salaries ranging from $40,000 to $99,000, the majority of which can be attained with professional certifications and credentials.

“Peggy Post’s thought-provoking workshop provided training for our students that will give them an edge in the workplace and beyond,” said Amber Barr, program services director for The Immokalee Foundation. “Her expertise and passion are a huge asset to the foundation and we are thankful that our students will continue to benefit.”

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence.

To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

Are We Really Communicating About Your Color?

by Erick Carter

Like other professions, hairstylists have their own language.

Understanding it means you will be happier with the tone and depth of your hair coloring.

Depth is based on a measurement of 1-10, the darkest to the lightest, essentially black to very light blonde.

Tone is slightly more complicated. There are two basic tones-warm and cool. Warm tones are gold, red and a mixture of those two which is orange or copper. Cool tones are ash tones and include blue, beige and green, a combination of blue and yellow.

When a warm tone is mixed with a cool tone, usually the cool tone will dominate.

Beige is a tricky tone to use as it leans towards violet (red and blue) and could turn hair a pinkish color.

Communicating with your stylist, you are now able to discuss more knowledgeably about the depth and tone you are trying to achieve.

There is another factor that your stylist understands—underlying contributing pigment. That will be a future article!

If you have any questions feel free to email me.

Erick Carter

Salon Zenergy239-777-2380

How to Choose Your Contractor

by Clay Cox
Owner/President • Kitchens by Clay

I hear that congratulations are in order. You have wisely taken the first steps towards that kitchen remodel that you have always wanted. That means by getting referrals from friends and neighbors, clipping pictures from magazines and compiling that ever so important “wish list”.

Most likely your referral sources recommended more than one cabinet company and you are about to meet with them. This of course is the most important step and doing your homework upfront will save you time, energy, frustration and money.

Finding the cabinet company that you want to work with is much more involved than just choosing the wood species and color choice of your cabinets. What most people are not aware of, nor are they expected to be, is the actual scope of the work and all it entails.

In other words, “what’s behind those walls?” A true kitchen remodel professional will provide you with an accurate assessment.

To get started with your interviews ask the following general key questions:

  • How long have they been doing kitchen remodels in your area? Importance: The actual construction and code process varies significantly in different parts of the United States. This could affect the outcome of your remodel.
  • How many kitchen remodels are they averaging per year? Importance: Experience
  • Do you have permission to call any of their past kitchen remodel clients at your discretion? Importance: Find out if they are doing their job!

Lastly, was trust established and do you feel they are a comfortable fit for you? After all, you will be working closely with them for several months to come.

Enjoy your home,


7935 Airport Road, Suites 5 and 6, Naples, FL 34109

T: 239.431.5474 F: 239.431.5472

WELCOME BACK to Naples Art

Naples Art welcomes you back!

At Naples Art we believe art can change lives and improve entire communities. Through our unique and engaging programs, classes, exhibitions, and events, Naples Art enhances community-wide appreciation for and understanding of the visual arts and supports artists of all ages and aspirations.

After a challenging spring and summer of being closed due to Covid-19 and then major A/C issues, we can’t wait to get back into the swing of things! The upcoming season at Naples Art is going through its final touches and is going to be brilliant! We have spent the summer diligently working from home on how we can  best serve and provide the arts and culture that our community is seeking and so deserves.

We are adding to the mix of what is offered and refining our current offerings in a fantastic way, including moving many new options online. From online classes and workshops to our gift shop, exhibitions and art shows. To inspire more artists to develop their talents and incubate a cultural revolution in Collier County, Naples Art is proud to be in its second year of spearheading the Art Business Entrepreneur (ABE) program for adults, providing professional development workshops and lectures allowing artists of all disciplines to develop and refine business skills that sustain their place in an evolving arts industry.

The added marketing opportunity will allow them to expand their reach and showcase their work. Learn more about the ABE Program here:

In addition to training artists in the art of business, Naples Art also prides itself in continuing to offer a sought after array of art
instruction for beginners, hobbyists and advanced practitioners. We offer more than 200 professional studio classes and workshops in painting, drawing, ceramics, mixed media, glass, jewelry, and more for adults and children, all taught by seasoned instructors. Register for classes at

Kathryn Knight of Naples,  Florida, Migrant Farmer, 2018, photograph, 20 x 20 inches

Our exhibition roster is making room for some very interesting new and unique opportunities to be featured alongside our most beloved annual exhibitions, including Camera USA® . Our national outdoor shows continue to win the most prestigious awards given to outdoor art shows across the country, with all three shows being awarded the prestigious Sunshine Artist’s 200 Best for 2020.

25th Annual Naples New Year’s Art Show
January 4 – 5, 2021, from 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturday and Sunday on 5th Avenue South. Featuring artists from across the country and overseas. September 8th is the deadline for artists to apply.

42nd Annual Naples National Art Show
February 22 – 23, 2021, from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday at Cambier Park & 8th St. South. Featuring artists from across  the country and overseas. October 28th is the deadline for artists to apply.

33rd Annual Naples Downtown Art Show
March 21-22, 2021, from 10 AM to 6 PM Saturday and 10 AM to 5 PM Sunday on 5th Avenue South. Featuring artists from across the country and overseas. December 8th is the deadline for artists to apply.

Our Grand Finale of the year, an absolute must-not-miss, is our Scene to be Seen event on November 6th that opens Naples Art’s 67th season and Celebrate the Arts Month. “This truly is the most unique event Naples has to offer. The energy and creative expression this event provides, will transport you to the likes of the Met Gala,” said Aimee Schlehr, the Executive Director of the Naples Art.

Experience this exclusive night of intense creativity, extreme inspiration and extraordinary vision at the 2020 Scene to be Seen – Runway Art Show, to be held at Naples Art. This extraordinary event elevates haute couture to spectacular works of art in a classic luxury runway fashion format.

The 2020 Scene to be Seen tickets are available through the Naples Art website at Availability for on-site attendance is very limited while the virtual streaming and watch party options are unlimited. First come first served on Naples Art floor seats for event.

These are just a few of the incredible list of things to come, we can’t wait to share more in the coming months. For more
information about any of the above, please visit us at

Naples Art has been at the forefront of the Arts & Cultural landscape of Naples since 1954. Our Mission is to enlighten, engage, educate, and enrich the community and to build on Naples Art’s history and position of leadership as a hub of visual arts in Southwest Florida. Come visit us today.

Offshore Drilling Remains a Threat

by Congressman Francis Rooney and Congressman Matt Gaetz

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill brought disaster to Florida. Our economy suffered gravely even though we had very little  impact from the spill. The fragile nature of a tourism-based economy is reflected in the impact of Deepwater Horizon. Even the
most remote threat or potential threat can radically undermine tourism. This is why we are resolved to fight against any effort that
would permit drilling off Florida’s coast.

Reports have recently circulated that the Department of Interior wants to resume offshore drilling in Florida’s waters after the  2020 election. These reports are deeply concerning to us, to the military conducting crucial operations off Florida’s coast, and to
millions of Floridians whose well-being depends on the tourism economy which is existentially threatened by offshore drilling.
Florida’s precious coastline is a national treasure and a vital military asset. Our military mission, environment, and property  values cannot be subjected to the potentially disastrous repercussions caused by drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Proponents of drilling argue the action is a part of our ability to maintain energy independence and keep our reliance off of foreign
sources of energy, but we are already energy independent, and in fact, exporters of energy. There is no need to put Florida at risk
when we are awash in oil and natural gas. Shell has even reduced the size of its most recent platform 90% because any more would
be inefficient.

Drilling off our coast would also severely threaten the vital military exercises and activities that are routinely conducted near
the proposed drilling sites. The Eastern Gulf is home to the Gulf Test Range, 120,000 square miles of overwater airspace
stretching from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys. The Range is one of the only places in the world where we launch live
fire over water, and land it on land. The military’s plans show that most future test activity will be conducted right east of the
Military Mission Line, a line which runs due south from Destin.

It is incomprehensible that a drilling moratorium would not be imposed in an area where experimental missiles are tested and
launched, and we can’t believe it’s not obvious that launching experimental missiles over active oil rigs is a reckless idea. Our  military has no better location to carry out these exercises,  and there is no compelling reason to place drilling interests ahead of our national defense. Having this unimpeded training and testing area is of critical importance to our military now and will  become  even more important in the future as we test hypersonic weapons, drones, and more.

Our Congressional colleagues in the Florida delegation stand together in recognizing the dangers drilling poses to our state. In  September 2019, by a vote of 248 to 180, the House passed HR 205, a bipartisan, proactive bill to make the 2006 moratorium
permanent. Key to its passage was the Florida delegation — all but one of Florida’s congressmen and congresswomen voted in favor.

This is a bipartisan initiative among our elected leaders, and we are not in the minority on this issue among our constituents either.
Recently 100% of the Florida delegation wrote to the Department of the Interior opposing any move to begin seismic testing or to
allow leasing for drilling. In 2018 over 68% of Floridians voted to ban drilling off Florida’s coast. They remember all too well the pain and suffering caused by the 2010 spill, the small businesses that were wiped off the face of our state, the families that had to move away to find work, the devastating financial loss experienced by millions of their neighbors. They are appealing to their government to listen, to remember, and to take action.

The fundamental purpose of our government is to defend and protect the United States. Allowing oil and gas drilling off our coast  will jeopardize our military readiness and national security by circumscribing the military test range and harming our
environment and our economy by creating risk of spills, pollution, pipelines, shoreside infrastructure, etc. – all of which is wholly
incompatible with the recreation and tourism economy of Florida.

As elected members of congress we will be derelict in our duty if we fail to fight back strongly against this destructive initiative.
It’s been ten years since well over 180 billion gallons of oil gushed into our pristine waters, shattering our economy and upending the lives of our constituents. We couldn’t afford the last disaster, and we refuse to allow another.

Leave our home alone. The Speaker and the House of Representatives voted to protect Florida. Now we need the Senate and  Administration to do the same.

Follow along with me on twitter @RepRooney