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Oil Drilling Discussion Heats Up

September 3rd, 2009 by flanews

A giant oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico is adding fuel to the offshore drilling debate here in Florida. Big oil is using the find as a reason to open up Floridas coast. As Whitney Ray tells us, lawmakers could vote on offshore drilling as early as October.

Public support for offshore oil drilling has been on the rise ever since gas prices hit four dollars a gallon last year. Jennifer Goldsby is still on the fence.

Id probably rather keep our beaches clean, said Jennifer. But when asked if higher gas prices would change her stance, Jennifer said That might start to change it some.

Associated Industries of Florida is documenting an increase in public support for drilling.

Our latest poll which was conducted about two weeks ago has it at about 78 percent of Floridians in support of some type of drilling if its responsible and done in an environmentally sound way, said Jose Gonzalez, a spokesman with AIF.

Adding fuel to the fire is BPs announcement that the company found enough oil in the Gulf of Mexico to run the country for an entire year. Lawmakers could be asked to vote on drilling as early as October. Representative David Rivera said October may be too soon to vote but a discussion is fair game.

We dont necessarily have to go completely in terms of approving and having final resolution or final disposition of the entire issue, but we could start exploring, said Rivera.

Environmentalists fear drilling off Floridas coast is too risky, and the issue needs more attention than lawmakers can give it in an October special session.

The public doesnt have enough time to take a look at this. This is a very, very complicated issue. We are talking about a huge amount of area in the Gulf of Mexico off Floridas beaches. We are talking about impacts to many, many coastal communities. We are talking about coastal communities valued at 562 billion dollars, said Eric Draper, a spokesman with Audubon of Florida.

Legislation to open the door to drilling within 10 miles of the coast is in the works, but a bill has yet to be filed.

Posted in Environment, Legislature, Oil Drilling, State Budget, State News, Wildlife | 1 Comment »

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