Monday, July 26, 2010

The offhore drilling debate...a look back

NEWS ITEM: Crist Dealt Blow Over Offshore Drilling Ban
July 21, 2010
Polls show a majority of Floridians support Gov. Charlie Crist's call to put a ban on offshore drilling on the ballot. But that wasn't always the case.

Two years ago, years of high gas prices — and accident-free drilling in the Gulf — led a majority of Floridians and their governor to support drilling off Florida's coast.

But, as the saying goes, that was then.

Outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday, a couple of hundred people gathered for a rally calling on the Legislature to put the drilling ban on the ballot.
The debate over offshore drilling in Florida has been raging for years. Here's a photo I shot 22 years ago...which ran on page 1A of the Herald.

here's how the Miami Herald covered the story:
Friday, January 15, 1988
by RANDY LOFTIS Herald Environment Writer

Gov. Bob Martinez took U.S. Interior Secretary Donald Hodel snorkeling Thursday over Key Largo's famous coral reefs hoping the natural beauty would deter Hodel from plans that could lead to oil drilling off the Keys after 1992.

It didn't. After emerging from the warm waters onto the glass-bottomed boat Infante at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, their differences remained unresolved.

"The governor and I agreed that this was a learning experience; it was not a decision meeting," said Hodel , whose plans for expanded oil exploration are opposed by state officials, environmentalists and tourism-dependent businesses.
Martinez said Hodel promised no changes in the oil policy. The two officials dined Wednesday night and on Thursday morning visited Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge on Big Pine Key . They had more discussions during a helicopter trip to Pennekamp Park.

"The fact that he's here at all, I think, is a positive sign," said the governor, pulling off a wet suit after 20 minutes in the water.

The reef trip was Martinez 's most ambitious venture into pro-environmental showmanship. The boat was jammed with reporters and photographers to record the two senior Republicans pulling off their blue jeans.

Greenpeace, the environmental group, set up a raft of people and inflatable sea creatures smeared with oil to dramatize their concerns. The Florida Public Interest Research Group, a Tallahassee-based lobbying organization, also protested.

The possibility of drilling off the Keys has emerged as a serious political issue. Senator Bob Graham, D-Fla., has given Hodel an anti-drilling petition with 120,000 signatures.

The trip offered Hodel a chance to tell Floridians that drilling wouldn't necessarily harm the Keys . Hodel , who has control of the nation's Outer Continental Shelf, said environmental studies will show if the threat is real.

"I do believe that the best way to protect them is through an orderly process," Hodel said, adding that Martinez "lays out a persuasive case" for excluding the Keys .

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