Off shore Oil drilling a closer possibility? By Mitch E. Perry

06/22/06

A proposal that could bring offshore drilling within 50 miles of the Florida. coastline easily passed a congressional committee yesterday, and the entire House is expected to support the issue when it comes before the floor next week (roll tape#1 o.q.�legislation�)

Richard Charter is the Co-Chair of the National OCS Coalition, which opposes more offshore drilling…He says the current moratorium on off shore drilling that is supposed to last until the year 2012 would end immediately if this proposed legislation would become law.(roll tape#2 o.q.�necessarily permanent�)

One of the chief negotiators of the legislation was Polk County Republican Congressman Adam Putnam, who presumably believed he was speaking for the entire GOP Florida delegation when he made what critics are calling a backroom deal last Friday night.

The Florida GOP Congressional Chairman, Fort Lauderdale’s Clay Shaw, has said he will oppose the bill, as have other Republicans like Mark Foley and Illean Ros-Lehtinen, but other Republicans say they’ll vote in support of it.

But the bill’s fate in the Senate is less certain, and the Bush Administration’s Interior Department is opposing certain provisions in the bill. Aides say that Governor Jeb Bush is studying it.

Both of Florida’s Senators are against it, and say they will reserve the right to filibuster the measure if it reaches the Senate.

With the country suddenly more conscious of our dependence on foreign oil – and with gas around $2.75 a gallon nationwide, opposition to drilling off Florida’s has begun to fray within the last year…..But Hillsborough County Commissioner and Congressional candidate Kathy Castor dismisses those who say that it’s only fair that Florida, which is the 3rd largest state in the country in terms of energy consumption, do its fair share by allowing such drilling (roll tape#3 o.q.�would be astronomical “)

The bill passed by the House Resources Committee on Wednesday is somewhat complex. But critics say it could allow drilling right near the coast.

Although it says that drilling would not be allowed 100 miles to the coast, between 50 to 100 miles, the moratorium would have to go through a convoluted process every 5 years. And Jim Presswood from the Natural Resources Defense Council says if a couple of states are less concerned than others about encroaching drilling, it could provide less political support for places like Florida (roll tape#4 o.q.�state jurisdiction�)

IN fact, Richard Charter from the National OCS Coalition says it has been designed to pit states against each other (roll tape#5 o.q.�) And Charter says that much of this bill takes power away from the states and gives back to the Feds.

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