Crist hints at legal action to allow offshore drilling

07/18/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Gov. Charlie Crist says he would consider going to court to guarantee his right to permit offshore oil exploration around Florida’s coasts.

The governor made those comments in an interview published in today’s Financial Times, as he continues his 12-day state trip through Europe. Crist told the London-based newspaper that it would be "more productive" for Congress to overturn its ban on offshore drilling.

Crist stunned some of his supporters last month by saying he supports John McCain‘s call to end the federal bans on oil exploration off U.S. coastal waters.

Crist told the publication that the current price of gas, a record $4 plus in most parts of Florida, “is a significant crunch on Florida families." He added, “I think the difficult decision that I have to make, as somebody who cares about the environment, is to realize that my fellow Floridians are hurting financially right now.”

Asked if lifting the White House ban gave states a chance to challenge the continuing moratorium, he said: “I suppose you could go to court potentially, but I think Congress has to change the law in order to lift the ban.”

Joe Murphy is the Florida Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. WMNF asked him if the governor’s latest rhetoric is an escalation of his previously announced support for offshore drilling?

Orlando area Republican Congressman Tom Feeney is scheduled to deliver the House Republican radio address tomorrow morning, pushing for more offshore drilling. And the former State Senate President of the Florida Legislature, Jacksonville’s Jim King, has also come out in support of drilling.

Increasingly, it appears the state and national GOP have found in offshore drilling an issue that they believe will have resonance against Democrats in the fall, a not insignificant fact as polls indicate it could be a rough November for Republicans.

But Joe Murphy from the Gulf Restoration Network says Crist bucked his party’s establishment when it’s come to environmental issues - until now.

Also in that Financial Times article, Crist says John McCain has not offered him the VP post so for now, he is prepared to "accept the job he was elected for."

Naturally, the state Democratic party jumped on that comment. In a release, it said,” early two years into his only term as Florida's governor, Empty Chair Charlie Crist bleakly admitted he is prepared to accept the job he was elected to do."

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