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FLORIDA NEEDS TO DRILL FOR GULF OIL

Don't let this come to Florida's shores - Sept. 6, editorial

Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter first emphasized the need for energy independence, President Carter calling it the "moral equivalent of war." Energy dependence has led to costly military adventures abroad and economic troubles at home, oil imports being a major factor in our ballooning trade deficits.

Florida, a major consumer of petroleum products, should do its part by repealing the ban against offshore drilling in its waters. Lifting the ban would not change the views off Florida's coast. Drilling rigs should be far enough offshore, 3 nautical miles, to be visually unobtrusive, and they should be temporary, in place only while drilling, usually as little as a few weeks to 6 months.

Modern offshore oil production carries only minimal environmental risk. At least 95 percent of the oil in Gulf of Mexico waters comes from natural seeps, where oil naturally bubbles from the ocean floor. Over the last 15 years, only 0.0006 percent of the oil produced offshore has been spilled. The oil should be transported ashore by pipelines buried below the ocean floor, secure from injury from boats, storms and other hazards.

Florida can no longer count on population growth as its major economic engine, its population having shrunk by 58,000 - the first decline since 1946. Florida's tax revenues have plummeted, leaving vital programs like education kept alive by temporary federal stimulus money. Next year's budget shortfall may range from $2 billion to $4 billion. Respected Florida economist Hank Fishkind projects that if Florida repeals the ban against offshore oil drilling in its waters, Florida could earn royalties and taxes of $2.3 billion per year, create 20,000 energy sector jobs averaging $76,500 per year, and generate $7 billion per year in economic activity.

If the St. Petersburg Times, one of the nation's great newspapers, would research the issue with an open mind, we believe it would become a strong proponent of repealing the ban, a repeal supported by a bipartisan 65 percent of Floridians.

Douglas A. Daniels, Florida Energy Associates, LLC

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So, was the fuss worth it? - Sept. 9, story

All the fussing showed the public's concern

I have to answer this with a yes. When we have a president whose handlers market him like a product, who has his own logo, his own Web site (even though the election was last year), and is ubiquitous on TV and radio, parents and grandparents became concerned about whether the message would be just another campaign commercial for the president. Especially when the students were asked by the Department of Education to discuss what they can do for the president.

We don't know what the original speech would have said, but the fussing did get his attention, and, although he talked about himself a lot, it hopefully got the message to a lot of kids that it is important that they stay in school.

B. Howerton, Largo

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So, was the fuss worth it? - Sept. 9, story

Republicans revealed

I think the fuss was well worth it as it showed the kids exactly what the Republicans are all about: doing, saying, distorting whatever they can to make President Barack Obama look bad. Instead, it just showed what kind of people they were, petty and mean. It's a lesson they will remember for years .

Jerry Dycus, Riverview

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So, was the fuss worth it? - Sept. 9, story

Invaluable lesson

In my opinion, all of the fuss regarding President Barack Obama's address to America's schoolchildren was much ado about nothing. And for the most part, all of the students, who did hear and watch the president's speech, came away from it happy and invigorated.

Although, for all of those teachers and principals who refused their students the opportunity to listen to the president because of not wanting to interfere with lesson plans, I'd say that they hadn't done their own homework well. Obama's speech was an invaluable lesson to be learned by all.

One 8-year-old summed it precisely as: "Study and try." How can something so simple as that be so wrong. For shame on all of those naysayers.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

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Scare tactics

Now that everyone has seen President Barack Obama's speech to school students, it is evident that all the scare tactics by Republicans regarding the speech's content were all just nonsense.

Instead of trying to politicize everything, maybe the Republicans should try getting some real work done on issues of importance to the voters, most importantly overdue health care reform.

Mike Angel, Valrico

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Still up there

After listening to the Republican spokesmen (Limbaugh, Steele, Greer, Chicken Little) for a week, I was relieved Wednesday morning to walk outside and see that the sky had not fallen. The whole sky seemed to be in place.

On my morning walk I noticed that there were no recently created socialist zombies among the kids waiting for their school buses. They were their usual bright selves. As I walked I had to wonder about parents who are afraid of their children hearing new ideas (reminds me of the Taliban prohibition against educating girls).

I also thought about how this episode had made visible the cowardice of our local School Board members. As is usually the case, they allowed the teachers to catch the blame. The teachers were damned if they did and damned if they didn't. What a shame.

Jim Bailey, Clearwater

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Showing respect

Kudos to Laura Bush! What a terrific lady.

I hope many people listened to what she said about the president's speech to schoolchildren. She supported our president on this issue. I am sure she disagrees with him on other issues. We need respect for the presidency so badly. To me this is a first step.

Theresa Keane, St. Petersburg

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Obama adviser steps down in controversy

Sept. 7, story

Media failings

"Talk radio" has received much criticism from "mainline" media and much of it (the criticism) may be warranted, if not for content rather for manner.

Your treatment of the news that Van Jones resigned was given "short shrift" with the rather obscure tucked-in notice of this event - in such a way as to give credence to talk radio's portrayal of the mainline media.

The fact that the resignation "was disclosed without advance notice by the White House in a dead-of-night e-mail on a holiday weekend" would tend to confirm negative accusations about this adviser in regard to the president's political preferences. The St. Petersburg Times followed suit in my opinion by the way it positioned this report.

Earl Concors, South Pasadena

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