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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush weighs in on oil drilling



The bottom line when reporters at an education conference in Orlando asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush today about his thoughts on drilling off the coast: Bush said he supports McCain’s and Crist’s changing position on the issue.


Click below to read the transcript of his reply.

--Ron Matus, Times staff writer

“Well I have to admit if brought back fond memories of political fights of yesteryear. The world has changed. We’ve had a game changing event, which is oil prices have gone to $138 a barrel with the possibility of going even higher. Gas prices, more importantly for working families are unsustainable. $4.30 is too much for people to pay over a long period of time.

“I think that the world has changed since I was involved in negotiation with the federal government in an effort to protect Florida’s coast line. Gas prices are over $4 a gallon. The price of oil, there’s a greater likelihood that it’ll go up rather than down. And we need a national energy policy that includes increasing supplies of oil and gas inside the United States. So, I think that Sen. McCain’s position and Gov. Crist’s position, while not defined, is the appropriate one to support the president on this effort.

“The devil ... is in the details. And I’m confident that given technology that exists today you can protect the shore line of our state, which is so vital for our economic interests and participate in a national priority, which is to expand sources of supply. And along the way we need to develop alternatives, we need to conserve, we need to all of those things as well. There is no quick fix to this challenge we face. But to do nothing, I think, would be completely inappropriate. There is a demand for developing a policy that is across the board and very intense. So this would be part of it. And I think Floridians would support participating in that effort.

"I had a suggestion on how to do it, which is to create a compromise that would allow for leasing of waters off the coastline, 100 miles off the coastline, providing protections all the way around the state and allowing for drilling past that that was not supported by unfortunately enough Republicans, ironically, in the Congress when this compromise was reached with Rep. Pombo and it did not happen. What will happen if nothing happens which is unfortunately seems to be the case in Washington these days, if nothing happens, 2012 there’ll be no protections at all. There will be no protections off Florida’s coastline and we won’t have begun the process of participating and expanding supply for our country. Hopefully this is an opportunity to find that common ground and I hope that Gov. Crist works with the congressional delegation to do just that.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:24am]


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