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Oil Drilling Moves Forward

April 21st, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Oil rigs could begin appearing off Florida’s cost in as little as 18 months under legislation approved by a legislative council today in Tallahassee. If this is the first you’ve heard of the idea in recent months, you’re not alone. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the idea caught environmental opponents by surprise when it was filed late last night.

Fueled by fears of four dollar a gallon gas, an amendment to allow oil drilling in the gulf off Florida appeared at 9:00 Monday night. It is being driven by one of the most powerful members of the Florida House and caught environmentalists by surprise.

“We’re a bit confused why, such an important issue that deserves a great deal of dialogue, and we have no objection to the dialogue, why this thing is coming on us so quickly,” Eric Draper with Florida Audubon said.

But the oil and gas industry came prepared with a poll, an economist who says it’s worth big bucks, and a comparison to Texas, which earns 7 billion a year from oil and gas.

“What does Florida get? A big, fat zero,” Louis Sessions, an oil industry attorney, said.

The measure passed 17 to 6 with just one Democrat voting yes.

Sponsor Dean Cannon says the measure doesn’t allow drilling, only the opportunity for it to be considered.

“Right now, given the current statutory prohibition, there’s no way you can even have the conversation or anyone would be able to submit a proposal,” Cannon said.

But the environmental community says the oil industry is trying to exploit Florida’s budget crisis.

It wasn’t until a week ago that the oil industry hired some of the most powerful lobbyists in town to try and push this thing through.

Governor Charlie Crist is already on record favoring the idea. Under the plan being pushed, he’d have the final say.

Posted in Business, Charlie Crist, Environment, Gas Prices, Legislature, Oil Drilling | No Comments »

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