Make us your home page

Floridians should want offshore drilling, says former lawmaker from Texas

Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Stenholm of Texas wants to educate people in the bay area about the benefits of drilling for oil and gas in their own back yard.

He paraphrases the late social commentator Will Rogers: "It ain't people's ignorance that bothers me so much. It's them knowing so much that ain't so is the problem."

Stenholm, 70, is speaking today in Tampa to the World Affairs Council of Tampa Bay about offshore drilling, America's dependence on foreign oil and climate change policy.

The lifelong Democrat, who says he represents the oil and gas industry, has been traveling the country telling people how using American oil reserves is what's best for the country.

Why do you feel that it is essential to open up access to America's oil and natural gas reserves?

Well, you know, I would think particularly Floridians would see the answer to that question. When you look at what's happening now to tourism, when we saw $4.50 gasoline last year, the disruption to our economy and all of the ramifications of that, that is why last year the Congress passed the law opening up onshore and offshore drilling opportunities again to allow us to develop our own natural resources. So that's why it's so critical now to the very economic future of our country.

Is there really enough readily accessible oil in the United States to make a difference?

Nobody knows. Nobody can answer that question. All we're saying is, "Doesn't it make sense to test and to see what we got rather than to assume it's not there?" … The question that we pose to the people of Florida: Wouldn't you like to know if you have a large gas field somewhere off your shores that can help provide cleaner burning fuel and that can help make sure we are not as dependent upon other sources for energy?

Recently on South Padre Island in Texas, oil blobs washed up on the shore. Why should Florida take the risk with its beaches?

What happened to Padre Island, I don't want it happening anywhere. And if you look at the track record of the oil and gas industry, there has been minimal spillage in the last 20 years. Minimal. And it's getting better every day because oil companies are very sensitive to that, the liability that goes along with that and the fact that the oil companies are as environmentally sensitive as anyone. You have to realize — and we don't know where this oil came from — we have natural seepage in the ocean. It occurs naturally, and you can't stop it naturally. We're trying. If we know a natural seepage, I guarantee you folks in the oil industry are No. 1, going to try to retrieve it and No. 2, stop it from naturally seeping and being wasted.

What are the costs of pending climate change legislation?

No. 1, if you look at (the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which has been passed by the House but has yet to be approved by the Senate), oil and gas is charged with 44 percent of the carbon emissions into the environment. Oil and gas got 2 percent of the credits. Okay, well, that means the oil and gas industry is going to have to pass on those costs — to whom? Those who consume gasoline. In the case of our farmers, the diesel cost of fertilizing. In the case of our food industry, those who utilize trucking in order to get the food products from where they are grown to the grocery store. So the legislation for some apparent reason decided that producing oil and gas in the United States is not in our best interests, but at the same time we are saying that we have to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and gas. I don't understand that logic. In fact, there is no logic to it.

Nicole Norfleet can be reached at or (727) 893-8785.

Floridians should want offshore drilling, says former lawmaker from Texas 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.