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STATE STANDS TO LOSE ON DRILLING

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

The opening paragraph of your editorial said it all. With our nation's hunger, both for jobs and energy, it is understandable why drilling off Florida's coast appears to be a panacea and is being bought into by Tallahassee.

The slick campaigning by this craftily obscure group of oilmen/lobbyists shows that they're taking advantage of this economic downturn by promising everything, from additional state revenues to financing alternative energy. Let's remember that any oil found would not necessarily "belong" to Florida; the commodities market and world demand have a way of influencing where oil goes, no matter where it was found. Much of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay oil is sold to Japan and Asia. What makes people so sure that Florida, or any part of the United States, is guaranteed to have first crack at any oil found off our coast? Are there legal guarantees I haven't heard of?

Keep our beaches free from the mess that results just from the process of drilling; the various lubricants and other chemicals used to facilitate the drills (regardless of improved technology) release large amounts of heavy metals and can cause water clarity to nosedive pretty much from the minute the drills start spinning. I'd rather pay 5-10 cents per gallon more than see a several-billion-dollar tourist economy get stalled and maybe killed off should our beaches be ruined by a spill.

Don't buy into this well-funded sales pitch. Florida has much more to lose than it does to gain from this rose-colored, oil-saturated promise.

Ron Thuemler, Tampa

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Don't let this come to Florida's shoresSept. 6, editorial

We need the jobs

The "calculus" that your editorial speaks of, the "potential damage" to the tourism industry, is a political calculus, not a fact-based calculus. Spills are eight times more likely to come from marine transportation of oil than from production. The last time we had significant amounts of oil wash up on U.S. gulf shores from a drilling or production spill was more than 30 years ago. That spill hurt Texas and came from an incompetently operated Mexican well run by the Mexican government (Pemex).

In discussing the recent BP Tiber Prospect find, you say that one of many "asterisks" is that it will take years to tap. By that logic, we should not embark on any major project that takes years, like building roads.

You further say that oil in Florida's waters won't "lower gas prices" or change our reliance on foreign oil, as if these are the primary goals. Oil drilling and subsequent production are great ways to create jobs, highly paid jobs I might add. What you call opposition to oil drilling I call opposition to job creation along the Florida Gulf Coast. We here in Pinellas County should be competing for those jobs, not ensuring that they go elsewhere through knee-jerk opposition.

Whether those "shadowy Texas oilmen" are using "simplistic rhetoric" or not, that does not change the facts about Gulf Coast oil drilling, drilling which incidentally could result in natural gas finds, not oil finds. Your shrill editorial does not advance the debate, or create jobs.

Thomas Rask, Seminole

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Don't let this come to Florida's shores Sept. 6, editorialSole-soiling mess

If anyone in Florida thinks that offshore drilling along our coasts is okay, I suggest that they take a trip to the beaches of Galveston and Padre Island, Texas. Make sure you bring along a can of gasoline or other solvent to clean off the oil and tar from your feet and body.

If we allow this to happen here it will be crime against the residents of Florida and our visitors.

Alan G. Nelson, St. Pete Beach

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Florida needs to drill for gulf oil - Sept. 10, letter

Paid to promote

What a surprise! A lobbyist from Daytona Beach is working for Texan oil salesmen telling us we need to drill for gulf oil. Just doing what he gets paid for.

Never mind the study done recently by the National Oceans Economic Program, which states that Florida's coastal economy produces annual goods and services of $560 billion. What would a "tiny spill" do to all the tax money Florida gets from its tourism trade? Everyone would love to visit our black-stained, malodorous beaches.

We have had our gulf beaches protected from coastal oil leasing for just this reason. Why do we want to make Texans more money, by just throwing away our beautiful beaches?

Caroline A. Bennett, Clearwater

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Young, gifted, college-bound - Sept. 6, story

Dangerous attitudes

Thank you so much for your story on Melissa Thomas and the black-on-black barrier she had to overcome to be a good student and get to college. This young woman fought against the self-destructive trends of being accused of "acting white" for speaking good English and earning good grades, the family tradition of having a child out of wedlock by the age of 17, and the hostile learning environment at St. Petersburg's Gibbs High School.

Stephanie Hayes' profile of Ms. Thomas shows that no amount of money, legislation or litigation will change a thing until this black cultural indifference toward education is eliminated.

Joseph H. Brown, Tampa

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NRA to schoolkids: Shut your beak - Sept. 11, Daniel Ruth column

The mighty mockingbird

Before I address Daniel Ruth's view of the mockingbird, I will say that the osprey is one magnificent bird, truly worthy of being a state bird.

But in his column, Ruth wrote: "Let's face it, as birds go the mockingbird is about as exciting as My Dinner With Andre - Part II."

Later he said: "Or put another way, which state bird would you prefer? One that can open up a can of whup worms on its foes, or one that can impersonate glad-handing influence peddlers?"

At first I thought this article was a satire. Then I realized that Ruth knows nothing about mockingbirds.

A couple of weeks back as dusk was about to settle, an osprey landed on the branch of my neighbor's Australian pine tree. Wrong tree! That tree belongs to Mr. Mockingbird.

My wife and I watched as the mockingbird went from branch to branch until he was higher than the osprey, all the while screaming at the osprey. He then took flight, flipped 180 degrees and dive bombed the osprey in the back of the head.

The osprey took flight, circled the stand of pines and landed on the other side of the tree. Wrong tree! Blam: another hit to the back of the head.

As for mockingbirds being exciting, it sure was entertaining to see a bird whose weight is measured in ounces open up a can of whup worms on a bird whose weight is measured in pounds.

Today the osprey is gone. Mr. Mockingbird is still here.

Raye Minor, St. Petersburg

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