Argument Continues Over Oil Drilling Off Florida's Coast
Legislation allowing oil drilling 45 miles off the coast of Florida is making waves in Congress.
The plan is just the latest in a series of efforts to open up Florida’s coast to drilling. Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s open to the idea, according to the Capitol News Service.
There are hundreds of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Legislation has kept them 125 miles off Florida’s coast, but Congress will review a plan to allow drilling 10 miles out.
“I think there is an opportunity to find a middle ground that is appropriate, that is safe and clean and done right, so I’m open to reviewing what those opportunities might be," Crist said.
Drilling off Florida’s coast could create thousands of jobs, but environmentalists say an oil spill could ruin the state’s tourism industry, according to the news service.
Business groups in Florida say drilling and tourism can coexist.
“Here in Florida, they wouldn’t even be visible," said Jose Gonzalez, Associated Industries of Florida spokesman. "They wouldn’t have to be that close to access these resources."
Colleen Castille, the former secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, isn’t convinced. Castille says 10 miles is too close.
“Three years ago, we should have implemented that law where we were going to protect Florida’s shores all around Florida for 125 miles, and it’s unfortunate we didn’t,” Castille said.
But gas was cheap back then. Any spike in the price of a gallon now will rally support for drilling and put pressure on Congress.
The legislation would allow coastal states to receive 37 percent of the rent and royalties energy companies pay to lease the federal land.
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