Florida House debates controversial offshore drilling bill

04/24/09 Mitch E. Perry
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A proposal that would lift the state ban on offshore oil drilling was debated before the entire House of Representatives in Tallahassee this afternoon.

The issue of offshore drilling has always been contentious in Florida – it was suddenly brought up for discussion late last week, without any warning.

The Miami Herald reported this week that the shift in policy was being aggressively pushed by Associated Industries of Florida, whose members include oil companies that the group refuses to name.

South Florida Democrat Ron Saunders challenged Republican Charles Van Zant about why he helped introduce the bill so late in the session.

Meanwhile, Florida CFO Alex Sink, who has become increasingly vocal as speculation heats up that she may be running for governor next year, came out strongly against the measure today. She also criticized the emergence of it so late in the legislative session.

“I also think it is unconscionable that a bill that could threaten our economy is being passed at the 11th hour, without any significant debate, serious study, or real time to hear from Florida’s citizens,'' Sink said. "Floridians deserve to have government in the sunshine -- this bill is government in the dark of night."

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