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Florida Left Out of Drill Deal

June 10th, 2009 by flanews

A congressional plan to drill for oil 10 miles off the coast of Florida would leave the state with some of the risk but none of the profits. Other states along the Gulf of Mexico would receive millions if Congress allows oil companies to drill closer to shore. As Whitney Ray tells us, Florida could net billions by lifting a ban on drilling in state waters, but environmentalists say the profits wouldnt cover the cost of a spill.

There are hundreds of oil platforms in the Atlantic Ocean. A federal ban keeps them far from Floridas coast but Congress may allow drilling just 10 miles from shore. Oil companies say there is plenty for which to drill.

We know its out in the Gulf of Mexico, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and we can get to that with a very small footprint, said Eric Hamilton with the Florida Petroleum Council.

But Governor Charlie Crist supports drilling that is far enough from the coast but 10 miles may be too far because its not close enough to bring Florida any money.

I would have to review it more closely to be honest with you Whitney. I think its such an important issue that all the aspects of it particularly if it would mean any revenue to Florida to, I understand that it may not. That would be a deal breaker, said Crist.

To make money off the deal, Florida would have to allow drilling in state waters.
The deal could generate 1.5 billion dollars a year for the state. But even if drilling brought billions of dollars into the state environmentalists say the profits would be lost if there was an oil spill.

Weve got this beautiful economy that every other state would envy, why would we put that at risk for a little bit of oil thats not even going to bring that much money into the state of Florida, said Eric Draper, a Spokesman with Audubon of Florida.

Its a question that Congress and voters may have to answer. A push to put the issue on the 2010 ballot is underway. Oil companies say drilling technology is cleaner and safer than ever before. They also say drilling today would require fewer oil rigs and platforms.

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