Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Marco Rubio wrong to seek oil money for Florida

Sounds enticing on its face: Give Florida a slice of the revenue that other states along the Gulf of Mexico derive from offshore drilling. But this measure proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio is the same tired Trojan horse that the industry has floated for years to try to expand oil drilling nearer Florida's coast. It would be a dangerous tradeoff that puts short-term interests ahead of Florida's long-term economic and environmental health, and state leaders should reject it and work toward extending the drilling ban in the eastern gulf.

Rubio has filed legislation that would extend the ban on eastern gulf drilling to 2027, joining an effort already proposed by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and a bipartisan group in Congress. The Miami Republican's measure also would enable Florida to receive a share of revenue generated by gulf drilling. Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama share 37.5 percent of offshore revenue, but that has been capped at $500 million annually. Rubio said the move "would give Florida a new source of funding" in recognition of the risks that drilling poses to Florida.

It's hardly that innocent. By dangling money before the state, proponents are trying to weaken Florida's resolve on drilling. A congressional deal now bans drilling in federal waters within 235 miles of Tampa Bay and 125 miles of the Panhandle through 2022. But giving Florida an equity stake in drilling in the central and western gulf would undercut the state's credibility in calling for extended protections in federal waters to the east.

This is straight from an old playbook. A future Florida House speaker filed bills in 2009 and 2010 that would have allowed drilling in state waters, which extend about 10 miles into the gulf and 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Though the bills stalled, President Barack Obama announced a sweeping plan to expand drilling in the eastern gulf in March 2010, only weeks before the BP oil disaster. That catastrophe was the only thing that sapped the momentum for new drilling by the federal and state governments. Weakening the protections in Florida have always been key for attacking the moratorium in federal waters.

"You get the camel's nose under the tent and suddenly, the camel is in the tent," said Nelson, who played a lead role, along with Florida's other then-senator, Republican Mel Martinez, in the 2006 deal that installed the moratorium.

Rubio suggested the money could help Florida with coastal restoration and flood control. That sounds good, but revenue sharing would still be at the will of the Congress, and there is no guarantee the federal government would spend the revenues on what was promised. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama pledged to direct these revenues to coastal restoration. He later backtracked and sought to end revenue sharing and to reallocate drilling royalties to conservation projects across the country. Florida easily could have nothing to show for this tradeoff but an environmental disaster in the making.

The energy industry would be the only winner in signaling to Washington that Florida is no longer a no-drill state. Florida should push instead to extend the ban on drilling in the eastern gulf beyond 2022. That would protect the state's economy, strengthen its natural resources and help to improve the safety of military training in the gulf. The allure of dollar signs is a shiny distraction, and Florida would regret taking the bait.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18