Reeling in Jeb – Florida Nixes Plans for Offshore Oil Drilling November 11, 2005Posted by Leita in Florida, Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics, Southern Living.
Panhandle (aka The Emerald Coast) Floridians guard their beaches to the point dogs are only allowed with permit and even then only for a couple hours in the morning and evenings. Street and home lighting cannot be turned directly onto the beach to allow hatchling turtles a better chance of getting to the water and not in traffic. In Grayton Beach, vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach, but only property owners and only with a permit sticker.
A year ago, a pro-oil drilling politician could not be found in Florida. But increased pressure from Governor Jeb Bush and a group of conservatives led by California Republican Richard Pombo had some lawmakers rethinking the “let’s keep the beaches white and the tourists happy” mentality. It seemed inevitable as pump prices and hurricanes pushed them toward allowing oil and gas drilling off the East Florida pristine coast.
A year ago it wasn’t a republican/democrat issue in Florida. Today, it still is not and, at least for now, the beaches are still sugar white and the water still emerald green and clear.
But it’s not just Florida’s beaches:
The measure would replace the current patchwork of bans on energy exploration that cover the eastern Gulf and much of the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. Instead, drilling would be allowed along the entire Outer Continental Shelf, but states could vote to block drilling within about 125 miles of their shores. (Source: The Orlando Sentinel)
Not because some GOPs didn’t try, though. The defeated plan was a compromise to keep drilling 125 miles off the coast.
The proposal that was killed Wednesday night would have allowed Florida’s Legislature and governor to oppose drilling within 125 miles off Florida’s coasts, but open up drilling beyond the 125-mile mark, including millions of acres that have been long-sought by the oil and gas industry. (Source: The Miami Herald)
But some stood their ground. Crossing over the Republican/Democrat line, politicians such as Rep. Connie Mack, a Republican from Ft. Myers, drew a line in the snow white sand in Florida yesterday and despite pressure from officials who (erroneously) claim Gulf drilling would decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil, voted no. Another, Rep. Katherine Harris, a republican from Long Boat Key is actively lobbied to remove the offshore drilling measure before it reached the House floor.
Both Florida senators, Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D) oppose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
So who was pushing the measure so hard it seemed inevitable?
Governor Jeb Bush, who was opposed to any Florida offshore drilling at all when reelected in 2002 and Rep. Tom Feeney, Oviedo. Also voting for the drill was representative Adam Putnam of Bartow, Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Jeff Miller of Pensacola, all Republican. In all, eight republicans out of the 25-member congressional delegation voted for the compromise.
Jeb’s reaction to the bipartisan vote: “It’s a temporary victory politically, but it’s not an ultimate solution.”
Feeney, who in a nationwide released video created by “a business group,” extolled the virtues of offshore drilling, stated the measure would “…protect our beaches and also allow Americans to have a steady supply of affordable gasoline.” Feeney didn’t explain how coastlines would be protected because no one has a plan yet.
It’ll be okay, I’m sure pro-drillers will come up with something later. Maybe following an accident or after a hurricane sends Valdez-quantities of crude into the Gulf.
Fuel shortages, if they do exist, stem mainly from refineries damaged during this year’s hurricanes and to a larger extent, worldwide demand. Drilling more oil and gas from the Gulf would not alleviate the pump prices and heating oil bills and who says it should be solely the responsibility of the United States if it is indeed a worldwide crisis?
Although not sworn in, oil company moguls at a Senate hearing Wednesday did explain why the price of fuel was going up at the same time their coffers stretched to hold the $25 billion in profits earned last quarter. Actually, they didn’t, but they unblinkingly admitted it was not their fault.