Fossil Fuel lobbyist Charlie Stenholm pushes drilling off Florida coast listen07/31/09 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Last year Congress gave states the option of whether to allow drilling for oil and natural gas off their coasts. The Florida Legislature is expected to again take up the issue in their 2010 session. Today in Tampa, a former Democratic member of Congress from Texas spoke in favor of opening up Florida to offshore drilling.
Charlie Stenholm - a member of the House of Representatives from 1979 to 2005 â€“ predicts that drilling off the coast of Florida â€œwill happen someday.â€ Stenholm suggests that the stateâ€™s tourism will be hurt more if drilling for fossil fuels is NOT permitted than if drilling is allowed.
Floridaâ€™s Democratic Senator Bill Nelson opposes drilling off the stateâ€™s coasts and said last week â€œthere are some things that states shouldnâ€™t sell out, like Floridaâ€™s economy and environment.â€
Representative Stenholm spoke in Tampa Friday to the World Affairs Council of Tampa Bay. He is a lobbyist representing the American Petroleum Institute.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to cut down on the pollution that causes global warming. It includes a cap-and-trade provision that would place a limit on carbon dioxide emissions and allow polluters to trade permits to release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Instead of funding the legislation by auctioning off the permits, most of them were given away for free to fossil fuel industries. Stenholm thinks oil and gas companies got a raw deal and opposes the bill, which has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
Many of the 20 people in attendance feel that drilling should be allowed off the coast of Florida. Tim Sweeny is president of an international market research firm. â€œIâ€™m in favor of it.â€
Madeleine Krasne runs a real estate office in St. Petersburg. She points out that off-shore drilling in the North Sea has been an economic stimulus for the United Kingdom.
Elaine Smalling, vice president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, prefers renewable sources of energy to drilling for oil off the coast of Florida.