Senator Nelson calls for investigation of oil drilling safety
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04/23/10 Seán Kinane
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Many Floridians oppose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico because of concerns about oil spills spoiling coasts.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

In a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for an investigation into safety of offshore oil rigs.

His letter comes after an explosion earlier this week that sank a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. Eleven workers are still missing.

In the letter, Nelson says the accident “raises concerns about the most recent claims of the industry that advances in technology have made drilling safe not only for workers but also the environment.”

Nelson says the coast of Florida could be affected by the spill.

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has also called for an investigation.

The group Progress Florida is opposed to expanded fossil fuel drilling off the coast of Florida. Their executive director, Mark Ferrulo, says “we hope our legislators are paying attention.”

There was a deep-water offshore oil rig called the Deep Horizon, that suffered a catastrophic blowout. At least that’s the preliminary thinking is that they experienced a blowout, which led to a massive fire, and complete, utter destruction of the rig—and unfortunately a tragic, potentially tragic loss of life. And the rig, the fire burned out of control for a number of hours, and eventually the rig sank. And it spilled a significant amount of fuel oil, and especially crude oil, into the gulf.

Q. Does that threaten the coast at all, the coast of Louisiana, or even the coast of Florida?

Well, right now there isn’t a threat to the coastline from this spill. The prevailing winds have pushed the current slick, which is about five miles long and one mile wide at last report, away from the coast. Unfortunately, it has pushed it into the breeding area of the endangered sperm whale, and bluefin tuna, and some other really imperiled species. But the coastline right now does not look threatened. And the latest report we have from the Coast Guard is that the oil spill itself may be contained. It’s still not absolute, but preliminary reports are that the spill may have been capped.

Q. Recently, the Obama Aadministration has suggested expanding oil drilling along the Atlantic coast and also in the Gulf of Mexico. And also, until a few days ago, the Florida Legislature was considering expanded oil drilling off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. And they say they might bring that back next year. What do you think about that, those ideas?

Well, I think it’s clear that this incident shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that when the oil industry claims that rig safety means that the potential for catastrophic spills is so infinitesimal, that they should be allowed to drill into sensitive areas, like Florida’s coast, any shadow of a doubt is put to rest after this accident. In fact, this is the second major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, this month. Earlier this month, it was eighteen thousand gallons of oil spilled into the Delta Wildlife Refuge from an offshore oil rig pipeline. And you know, Australia is still cleaning up the mess in the Timor Sea. So we hope the Obama Administration recognizes this.

The biggest threat to our coast right now is the fact that the incoming leadership, the incoming speaker of the Florida House, and the incoming president of the Florida Senate, are really pushing to drill as close as three miles off our beaches. If this same accident that happened Tuesday night happened within ten miles of Florida’s coast, we’d be seeing pictures on the nightly news of oil lapping up on our beaches, and covering our wildlife here in Florida. So we hope the legislators, we hope our legislators are paying attention.

Letter from Sen. Nelson to Ken Salazar

Progress Florida

More WMNF coverage of offshore drilling:

Two top Fla. politicans weigh in on offshore drilling

Offshore drilling opponents protest Gingrich

New report says oil drilling will harm Florida coasts

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Comments

oil drilling in gulf

The mere idea of more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is ignorant. The gulf is already a sewer (a huge "Dead Spot exists very near the florida waters), not to mention this area is probably the world's most hurricane prone area. Any intelligent being should be able to conclude the implications of a big wind, even half, or more, the magnitude of Katrina (maybe Ivan), which ripped right up the middle of the Gulf. Without that aspect, there is quite obviously the possible unforseen manmade or natural mistakes that can happen. (i.e. unexplained explosions-loss of human lives and known and unknown present and future environmental damage. And for what, but possible monetary gain by giant oil conglomerates: certainly not for the benefit of our ordinary citizens' pockets books or our dependence on foreign energy. I am a longtime resident of Sarasota, FL, home to some of the world's most georgous beaches, and whose economy relys on tourism because of the natural beauty. I do not relish the thought of oil slicked brown pelicans or once white sandy beaches. I will not vote for anyone of our politions who is willing to abolish the ban on more drilling in the gulf of Mexico. I have typically been a Democrat voter, but with (unbelievably) both President Obama and Sen Nelson, of FL voting for the drilling in the Gulf within 125 miles of Florida, neither of them will get my vote. concerened Florida Voter.

oil drilling in the gulf

everybody who thinks oil drilling in gulf or atlantic waters will reduce our dependency on foreign oil is very much mistaken. anyone, who is interested in the crued oil can google it, how the marked works. it will certainly not influence any gas prizes or create jobs in Florida, that's what some oil company sponsered politicians want you to believe. what an increased oil production in our waters will defently do, is that the OPEC (middle eastern) will reduce their production, to keep the crude oil prize stabil.

Don't give an inch!

President Bush and Bill Nelson opened up thousands of square miles for oil drilling and none of the "land" has been drilled. Now Obama is agreeing to open up more "land" for drilling. And the Florida Legislature study found that the oil available is small in terms of the world economy. It could never change the oil and gasoline prices; it could never reduce our dependency on foreign oil; it will not produce many jobs in Florida; and the owners of the drilling companies and refineries are not in Florida so corporate income taxes will not be collected here either. There is really nothing but risk for Florida. There is no upside at all. How can any Floridian actually see any benefit to drilling near Florida? When will the relentless pressure ever end? Even if they spill oil and ruin our seafood supply/industry and tourism they will still want to drill. We should not give them ONE MORE INCH!