Nelson drumming up opposition to oil drilling
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson used a visit to his Tallahassee office Monday to drum up opposition to a U.S. Senate amendment to open Florida’s coast to oil drilling 10 miles off the coast.
“You’re not going to trash our beaches and our economy for the sake of oil,’’ Nelson said. He said the move will also “cut the heart and the lungs out of the military testing training’’ done at Eglin Air Force base on the Florida Panhandle.
Nelson dismisses the argument by drilling proponents that new technology now minimizes the threat of oil spills to Florida’s beaches. “Look as recently as Hurricane Katrina in which 750,000 gallons of oil were spilled.’’
He displays a photo of the downtown Tampa skyline from St. Petersburg side of the Howard Franklin bridge as a sign of what you can see from 10 miles out. “You can see oil rigs going 10 miles out,’’ he said.
He said that because the oil industry has already invested money and infrastructure into the Gulf, it wants to shift into Florida waters.
Nelson agrees that increased domestic production is needed to decrease the U.S. dependence on foreign oil but believes the oil companies already have access to 8.3 million acres and another 32 million acres under lease that is not being drilled. The land grab over Florida’s coastline, he said, is self-serving greed. “A lease has a value and value adds to the assets of the oil company and the greater the value of the oil company, the greater the value of the stock,” he said. "The demand for increasing the value of their company is insatiable."
He urged the Gov. Charlie Crist “to come to the same conclusion that Sen. (Mel) Martinez and I have” that the Senate measure will hurt Florida.