Crist likes McCain's drilling plan
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist tells Buzz that he loves Sen. John McCain's idea to lift the federal moratorium on off-shore drilling and let individual states decide whether to allow oil and gas exploration. He also said he wouldn't rule out letting Florida opt to drill off-shore.
"Florida has one of the most pristine environments on the planet, and I'm committed to protecting it," Crist told the St. Petersburg Times this evening. "But we also need to be pragmatic. We need to protect Florida and America's economy, and I look forward to the discussion."
Whether he'd support a decision by the Florida Legislature to drill depends on "how far (from shore), how safe, how protective of our environment it would be – there’s many contingencies that would have to go into it," he said.
"It’s the last thing in the world I’d like to do, but I also understand what people are paying at the pump, and I understand the drag it is on our economy," Crist said. "Something has to be done in a responsible, pragmatic way."
Since 1982, a congressional moratorium renewed each year has closed most of the U.S. coastline to drilling, with the exception of waters off Alaska and in the western and central Gulf of Mexico. A presidential moratorium enacted by George H.W. Bush in 1990 also prohibits drilling.
The federal Minerals Management Service estimates that 86-billion barrels of oil and 430 cubic feet of natural gas lie in undiscovered reserves off the U.S. coast, though the agency could not say how much of it is now off-limits.
McCain on Tuesday will outline a plan for lifting the moratoria as part of a broader energy policy that also focuses on finding renewable and alternative energy sources.