With more and more Floridians worried about the potential for other off shore oil rig’s having accidents many are contacting local and federal Government officials to oppose any offshore drilling near Florida. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has turned into an environmental and economic disaster with no end in site.
With fears the oil could make its way to the Northwestern most tip of the Florida Panhandle residents along the Panhandle and Gulf Coast want nothing to do with oil giants like BP or Exxon and have turned against offshore drilling. The current number supporting drilling is 35% which is a major change from two years ago when 61% of residents approved the idea of drilling to lower oil and gas costs.
The full impact on this year’s election campaigns will depend on the extent of economic damage, political analysts say. Many candidates for the highly watched Senate race and Governor’s race have already started revamping their campaigns to coincide with Floridians feelings about offshore drilling.
“People in Florida are holding their breaths, waiting to see how devastating this spill may be to the west coast of the state and maybe even the Keys and southeast coast” said George Gonzalez, a political scientist who specializes in environmental issues at the University of Miami. “If the Florida economy is very adversely affected, with a tangible health impact on our beaches, there will be significant pushback to the idea of developing oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.”
While Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek is voicing his long-standing opposition to more drilling, conservative candidate Marco Rubio still promotes energy exploration to boost domestic supplies.
Rep. Meek, D- Miami, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced a bill this week to halt the Obama administration’s five-year plan to expand drilling into new areas of the Gulf and Atlantic seaboard.
“Any effort to revive offshore drilling needs to be stopped dead in its tracks” Meek said.
Rubio told reporters in Washington this week he isn’t happy with the spill, and it has been hard to try and weigh the pros and cons of his decision, but still wants to develop offshore production to make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of oil and natural gas.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently changed his stand on oil drilling to say he rejects the idea after he took a closer look at the oil slick spreading toward Florida’s Panhandle.
A proposal by proponents of drilling 3 and 10 miles offshore that looked to be passing in the Senate is now in jeopardy of being killed by the Senate.