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Florida politicians who still support drilling? There oughta be a law

If you are able to plant your feet on a beach, any beach in Florida right now, like me you may find yourself getting a little sappy.

Far out there, farther than you can see — for now, at least — the oil rig blew up and the oil poured out, millions of gallons of it at latest count. On the beach, you can breathe in and smell something metallic and harsh.

That's when sappy starts to turn to angry.

Drill, baby, drill, they said, and a month after the explosion, tar balls are starting to wash up, which should sound funny but does not.

There is talk of bizarre-sounding solutions involving hair, hay, pantyhose even, anything to stopgap a disaster. And even as chemical dispersants to break up the black mess appeared to begin to work, we got to thinking about what those chemicals themselves are doing to our seas.

All that marine life in the gulf and Atlantic waters.

Our fishing industry.

The tourist trade, critical to our economy.

And all that oil befouling the water.

The long-term effects aren't in, but you can bet they won't be pretty.

Maybe all of this makes some of us neither teary nor angry, those of us who can still repeat the mantra without reservation: Drill, baby, drill. They don't hear a wakeup call here, or see this as a good time to talk about ways to cut the cord on foreign oil through energy alternatives.

Maybe to some of us the mess in the gulf, which by the way left 11 people dead, a fact that seems to get lost in all that came after, means little beyond tar balls and a few greasy ducks.

Did I mention the part about being angry?

"Accidents happen," Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele actually said the other day.

And, "This is the first oil spill of this magnitude since the Exxon Valdez some 20-plus years ago, so the track record here for drilling offshore in the United States is a pretty good one."

A pretty good one.

Huh.

Gov. Charlie Crist said he would call a special legislative session to ask voters for a ban on oil drilling off the shores of our state, which would be the only good that could possibly come from all this bad.

Because even with national news blaring daily about the spreading slick, the push to inch drilling closer to our coast will not go away.

Any politicians who owe their jobs to the voters of Florida have to decide what they want to harvest from our waters: oil, or the industries of tourism and fisheries.

Out walking the beach, I got to dreaming up my own constitutional amendment. It would apply to any elected official who still believes in the drill-here-drill-now philosophy, even if they are savvy enough not to say it loudly and proudly, at least for the moment.

According to my made-up amendment, those politicians forfeit the right to stroll the beaches, to eat local seafood, to fish, to spot dolphins in the waves, to build sand castles with grandkids, and to benefit in any way from tourists who come and spend their money to do the same.

Sappy, I know.

Angry, too.

And what good comes from angry?

Maybe just the resolve of the voters in Florida who know what's best about being here to keep it from happening again.

Florida politicians who still support drilling? There oughta be a law 05/18/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 9:30am]
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