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Local lawmakers want constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling off Florida

ST. PETE BEACH — Striking while the issue is hot, two Democratic lawmakers on Thursday called for a special legislative session and a constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling in state waters.

Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, announced the proposals at the Tradewinds Resort on St. Pete Beach.

They join state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, in asking Gov. Charlie Crist to approve a special legislative session for discussion of oil drilling in state waters, among other issues.

"Now we know what the real risks are," Fitzgerald said.

Kriseman blasted Republican lawmakers who have continued to support oil drilling and call the recent catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico a fluke.

"This is simply crazy talk," Kriseman said.

Fitzgerald said now is the time to stand up against oil drilling. Support for drilling could be resurrected like "a vampire" when people forget about the catastrophe next year, he said.

This is the time to "drive a stake through a bad idea," ending it once and for all, he said.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced her support of the special session, saying the spill "proves that near beach drilling is a disastrous idea."

The constitutional ban on drilling in Florida waters would not apply to oil transport.

Kriseman and Fitzgerald also proposed creating a legislative mandate agreed to by Republican leadership to develop a "clean energy" policy without oil or coal.

In Washington, the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion has dampened debate on a sweeping climate and energy bill that includes more offshore drilling.

Crist withdrew his support for offshore drilling last week after examining the oily mess during a 90-minute flyover.

"Clearly it could be devastating to Florida if something like that were to occur," he said then. "It's the last thing in the world I would want to see happen in our beautiful state.''

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Local lawmakers want constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling off Florida 05/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 7, 2010 5:36pm]
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