Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bill McCollum and Alex Sink share common skepticism about oil drilling

TALLAHASSEE — The two rival candidates for governor, Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink, don't agree on very much.

But they clearly share common ground on an issue sure to dominate the political agenda in 2010: a proposal to lift Florida's ban on offshore oil drilling.

Both are willing to listen, though neither sounds very convinced that it's time to drill, baby, drill.

The proposal can pass without either's support, but if drilling proponents succeed, the next governor would decide whether to grant leases to oil companies.

Read their detailed comments closely — and decide for yourself who's more anti-drilling.

McCollum was born and raised in Brooksville, in then rural and largely unpopulated Hernando County. But when it comes to the question of lifting Florida's long-standing ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, he quips, "I'm from Missouri. You've got to show me."

Florida's one-term attorney general, who previously served 20 years in Congress before his two unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Senate, says he has to be convinced that drilling for oil and gas can be done safely without harm to Florida's fragile coast and its tourism industry.

"Historically, I've opposed the exploration of oil and gas off Florida's coastline," McCollum said in an interview this week. "I did that when I was in Congress.

"But I'm open-minded. I'm a guy from Missouri. You've got to show me about the claims that this is going to be something that we can do without danger to the people of Florida or to the coastline — to what's natural out there. But I'm very cautious about that. I'm open to listening. But I've historically opposed it."

Sink, the first-term chief financial officer from Thonotosassa, said this to St. Petersburg Times political editor Adam C. Smith: "My strong bias is to not be supportive. And furthermore, just like so many things in the history of Florida, it kind of reminds me of the lottery. This is not going to be the answer in Florida for the next get-rich-quick scheme. It's just not."

Last year, when Gov. Charlie Crist followed Sen. John McCain's lead and dropped his previously unwavering opposition to drilling, Sink publicly chided him: "He's one person; he's one public official. I don't want those people in Washington to think all of a sudden that everybody in Florida supports oil drilling."

In this week's interview, Sink said Florida should instead focus on renewable energy sources like solar power because that would create "many more" high-paying jobs. Sink also said the recent rupture of a rig off the coast of western Australia made her even more concerned about the possibility of rigs off the Panhandle coast.

McCollum, too, cited the Australian accident: "I don't want an oil spill between 3 or 10 miles off the coast of Florida, like they had off the coast of Australia," he said. "I've got to be assured, before I support something like that, that modern technology would not permit that to happen off our coast."

As a Senate candidate in 2004, McCollum faced familiar criticism for what environmental groups said was a bad voting record in Congress. But he was very specific on drilling, telling the Orlando Sentinel: "As Florida's next senator, I would do everything in my power to make sure there is never any drilling for oil or gas off Florida's coasts, including a program to buy out oil leases in the gulf."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or 850-224-7263.

Bill McCollum and Alex Sink share common skepticism about oil drilling 10/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  2. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein
  3. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Gilmore
  4. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]
  5. Editorial: Trump uses Americans' health care as bargaining chip

    Editorials

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself. The president's unilateral actions are aimed at driving up premiums, steering healthy people away from the federal marketplace and ensuring his inaccurate description of the law as a …

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself.