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Energy is our ticket to economic prosperity

Matthew M. Carter, II

Energy is our ticket to economic prosperity

By Matthew M. Carter II, J.D., Ph.D.

      Before going to law school, I was a financial consultant for Merrill Lynch.  Afterwards, I practiced law, worked many years in the Florida Legislature, then served as Chairman of the Florida Public Service Commission, responsible for energy, telecommunications and water regulation. During this time, I also served as a bi-vocational pastor for many years before retiring and becoming a Christian evangelist and author.

     The primary focus of my book, The 90% Rule, is to provide people with a biblical method for debt reduction and wealth accumulation.  It is based on biblical principles and sound financial practices.   I am committed to providing much needed information to help folks improve their standard of living.  Jesus came that we may live an abundant life (John 10:10). 

     In order to get out of debt and to obtain prosperity, you first need a source of income.  The universal way to earn income is with a job and most people would be honored to have a job, particularly a decent well-paying job.  Great things are possible when people are gainfully employed.  In the Bible, Nehemiah rallied the people to greatness. So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6).  Not only did the Children of Israel rebuild the wall to Jerusalem, they rebuilt the unity of a people, restored worship in the sacred places and gave purpose to the lives of all the people.

     Today, I want to share insights on an issue that has been debated in Washington for many years – Energy.  Just as any other issue, many Americans are eager to weigh in on the national energy conversation. Our citizens have the potential to be a deciding factor in our nation’s energy future. Florida in particular faces unique energy challenges because of our dynamic climate. In fact, 54 percent of electricity consumed by Floridians comes from natural gas, which is quickly becoming the highest residential electricity demand in this country.

     The volatility of Florida’s climate creates energy challenges year round, especially during winter months when balmy 75- degree days can be followed by freezing 30-degree nights. These extreme temperature swings cause Florida residents to use more energy, mainly in the form of heating and air conditioning. And in the summer, Floridians struggle to cool their homes as sweltering temperatures can extend into the fall. 

     It’s likely that the first thing you do in the morning is turn on a light switch, but energy is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Sure, we have all seen television ads and public service announcements explaining the impact of our actions on energy and our environment, but to truly have an impact on our energy future, we have to get involved. Most Americans are fully aware of the need to conserve energy and develop sustainable energy solutions, but what most people do not know is that addressing energy is an essential piece of our nation’s economic recovery. In Florida, the oil and natural gas industry supports more than 230,000 jobs, with an average annual salary of $61,388. Together, the oil and natural gas industry sectors contribute more than $18 billion to Florida’s economy alone.

     In addition to increasing Florida’s economy monetarily, sensible energy development could also mean substantial increases in job growth – more than 84,000 additional jobs by 2015, and more than 131,000 additional jobs by 2030. This would mean an average of $1.3 billion new, additional revenue coming into Florida every year through 2030. This is enough money to cover three quarters of our state’s general contribution fund to every public university per year, without the need for taxpayer dollars.  

     Oil and natural gas industries are fueled by those in the engineering sector: electrical, civil, chemical, mechanical and petroleum engineers, as well as engineering managers. These jobs offer immense security to college students going into those fields. Not only do students generally have the security of a job waiting for them when they graduate, they also have a high starting salary. Developing energy careers is vital in today’s workforce as an increasing number of college students struggle to find work after graduation.

     Floridians’ voices are being heard, and each day, more communities are sharing their thoughts on energy through Florida’s Energy Forum. The forum is a non-partisan group of Florida residents, veterans, and local community members who share a common concern about our state and nation’s energy future. The forum’s goals are to achieve energy security for our country and to hold our elected officials more accountable in shaping energy policy.

     To sustain and grow our economy, and meet the demands of an expanding population, the Energy Information Administration projects the US will need more than 10 percent additional energy by 2035. We can reach these goals and make America the independent, self-sustainable country we know it can be, and the effort starts with you. We have a duty to hold our elected officials accountable, and ensure they are shaping policies that will benefit Florida’s citizens. Time and again, taxpayers end up footing the bill for politicians not doing enough to produce sound energy policies: whether it’s our electric bill, our water bill, or emptying our wallets every time we visit the gas station. Everyone has a role in shaping our energy future, and it’s up to us to become involved and make this change happen. Together, we can get this work done!


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