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Drilling for Florida gulf oil gains support


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  • 4 weeks later...

I fear.... I fear.... But all i hear is people complain about 20 cents. Inevitable is tough to swallow, but by defination you must.

yea but unless you have one of those ghetto little scooters then 20 cents makes a big difference when you pump a gas tank full on cars and suv's. Anyway im fine with it the port of Tampa could get some business out of it and it helps the economy and theyre still far enough to not really bother anyone

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  • 2 weeks later...

I love our Senator!! Go MEL!!

He has not changed his posisition and he is not backing off either.

See letter attached...

Dear Ms.:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the federal moratorium on offshore drilling in our state of Florida. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.

On May 26, 2005, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6) for full Senate debate, in an effort to address our nation

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  • 2 weeks later...

Drilling plan dies in House for now

The Gulf and Alaska proposals are tossed as the GOP tries to get votes to pass the overall budget.

Tamara Lytle

Washington Bureau Chief

November 10, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders scrambling to pass a budget bill late Wednesday abandoned a deal that would have expanded oil and gas drilling off Florida's coast and in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The House Rules Committee ditched both controversial proposals before voting to send the budget bill to the House floor for a vote today.

Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, said that House Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., had agreed to remove the drilling provisions as Republicans try to amass enough votes to pass the overall budget.

The issue had divided Florida politicians, with Gov. Jeb Bush and most of the GOP House members agreeing to allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico in exchange for a 125-mile buffer zone where states could prohibit it.

But Shaw and four other House Republicans, as well as the state's Democrats, have been trying to keep the offshore-drilling measure out of the budget bill.

Those five proved to be enough to kill the Gulf-drilling provision, which GOP leaders promoted because it would have brought in $900 million in drilling royalties to the federal Treasury during five years.

They also said it would help ease the nation's shortage of domestic-energy supplies.

"We flexed our muscles, and we were successful," said Shaw, chairman of the Florida House delegation.

Shaw did not rule out another drilling deal in the future but said Floridians need more time to learn about the issue and more study of how it will affect the Gulf.

House leaders were having trouble putting together the 218 votes to pass the overall budget bill, which was intended to cut up to $54 billion in federal spending.

Republicans could afford to lose only 13 of their party members on the vote because Democrats may be united against the bill.

"It's all a function of where the cheapest votes you can buy come from," said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, who serves on the House leadership team and favors the drilling deal. By Wednesday afternoon, GOP leaders did not yet have enough votes and were evaluating what they could add to or subtract from the bill to win over individual lawmakers.

The provisions for offshore drilling and for energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were two of the highest-profile sections of the bill, each with crucial Republican blocs of lawmakers lobbying against their inclusion.

"The two of them together means the plane won't clear the trees," said Richard Charter of the environmental group National OCS Coalition.

Some Florida lawmakers who supported the offshore deal said they wouldn't vote for the budget bill if it included drilling near Florida but not in the Alaskan refuge.

The offshore drilling would give states along the nation's coastlines and in the Gulf the right to vote down drilling within 125 miles of their beaches and pay them royalties if they approved the exploration. It would open up drilling beyond the 125-mile mark, including 2.4 million acres of the eastern Gulf of Mexico that have long been off limits.

Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, led the GOP opposition, bucking his governor and most of the 18 Republican House members from Florida.

Mack argued that drilling in the eastern Gulf would not solve the nation's energy problems but could lead to environmental problems that could damage Florida's beaches and tourism economy.

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Jupiter; Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key; and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, also pressured leadership to take the drilling out of the bill.

Shaw is one of the most senior members of Congress and runs for re-election in one of the country's most competitive congressional districts. He said he thought strongly that the drilling deal shouldn't be in a massive budget bill with little debate.

The House Rules Committee -- which is dominated by GOP leadership -- decided late Wednesday to ditch the offshore-drilling provision.

The full House votes on the budget bill today.

The Senate, where Florida Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson both vigorously oppose it, did not include offshore drilling in the Gulf in its version of the bill.

Environmentalists who had fought the House deal on drilling said Wednesday that they will not let down their guard because the provision could be slipped back into the bill during negotiations in coming days.

Athan Manuel of the environmental group U.S. PIRG said the budget goes next to a House-Senate conference committee in which rules are loose about what is included in the final version.

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^ Your right.

New bill would bring gas drilling to 20 miles of Florida coast


Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - New legislation that would bring natural gas drilling 20 miles off coastlines in Florida and other states is scheduled to be heard by a U.S. House Committee in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The bill, introduced Tuesday, is the latest in a series of attempts to expand offshore drilling due to price increases and shortages linked to fuel supply disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico.


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I think this is an awful idea. I am glad our senators are against it and I will base part of my vote for governor on how the candidates feel about this topic.

I have visited beaches from California to Maine and the Gulf beaches in Florida are some of the very best and most unique. Our unique wildlife and natural areas including our beaches are our "crown jewels" and everything should be done to protect them.

It will be a sad sad day for Florida and the Gulf Of Mexico should this happen.

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  • 2 months later...

2 senators propose drilling deal

Martinez, Nelson would open 740,000 acres in Gulf to end oil battle

Tamara Lytle

Washington Bureau Chief

February 2, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Florida's two U.S. senators Wednesday offered a compromise that would open 740,000 acres of an energy-rich area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling in exchange for a permanent end to the perennial wrangling about oil and gas production off the state's coast.

The proposal by Republican Mel Martinez and Democrat Bill Nelson drew the support of environmentalists but a less enthusiastic response from the energy industry.

The two senators said they hope their bipartisan stance, their success in blocking more-extensive drilling last year and support from Florida's congressional delegation would give their bill a good chance of passage.

House and Senate committee leaders with jurisdiction over drilling have favored opening larger areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. That effort turned into a pitched battle last year, and the idea was killed at the last minute by a band of Florida lawmakers.

"If we do nothing, we have to continue this knife fight every day," Nelson said.

The new bill would bar drilling in much of the disputed Lease Sale 181 area but carve out a corner of 740,000 acres where production would be allowed. The area is 260 miles west of Tampa and 150 miles south of Pensacola. Some areas south of the Lease Sale 181 area also could be opened.

"It is not a responsible approach" because it blocks drilling as much as 260 miles from Florida, said Peggy Laramie, spokeswoman for the American Gas Association, which represents utilities. "It takes so much of 181 off the market, which down the road could hurt natural-gas customers in the Southeast."

David Mica, director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said the oil industry "will look forward to talking and broadening what we have access to."

The measure would ban drilling for 150 miles off of Florida's east coast and buy back drilling leases close to Florida that were granted years ago but not used.

Martinez said the bill is not ideal because it does allow some drilling in the eastern Gulf, which he and Nelson had opposed last year. But high energy prices are among the factors creating pressure for more drilling.

"There is a reality out there that things are going to be moving in the direction of drilling," Martinez said.

One slice of Lease Sale 181 that is below Alabama already is open for drilling. And a portion just above that, called the stovepipe, is off limits until 2012 because of a deal Martinez made with the Bush administration.

But the rest of the 3 million-plus acres of the area could be opened to drilling as early as next year by the administration if Congress takes no action.

The Martinez-Nelson bill would open about one-fifth of that area to drilling. Another section almost the same size could be opened in five years under their bill. That decision would be up to the Pentagon when it determines whether it needs the area for its training range for aircraft based nearby.

Environmental groups endorsed the bill quickly. Lydia Weiss, oceans lobbyist for Defenders of Wildlife, said she's worried about the drilling in "ecologically sensitive areas" but supports the proposal because it stops drilling in other parts of the Gulf.

Martinez said he had floated the idea to the Bush White House, which agreed to look at it.

"It wasn't, 'Get out of town,' " Martinez said.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday that he would not comment on the details but was encouraged that the two senators were working together.

Bush and most House members from Florida signed on to a compromise last year that would have allowed Florida to block drilling 125 miles from its shores. The Martinez-Nelson bill extends the ban farther into the Gulf and automatically puts areas off limits for drilling, unlike the governor's compromise that would have required the state Legislature to vote to stop drilling.

Bush had struck that compromise with House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif. His spokesman, Jennifer Zuccarelli, said she was encouraged that Nelson and Martinez were willing to compromise but would rather leave it to states to vote on whether to allow drilling.

Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, who helped negotiate the Bush deal last year, said he's not sure the new compromise would pass the House, especially given Pombo's position. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Jupiter, was skeptical because much of the Gulf is protected by a patchwork of temporary bans and deals. The protections for Lease Sale 181 expire next year, and a presidential moratorium that covers most of the rest of the Gulf ends in 2012.

"We're not at a point yet where we need to promise away an inch of Florida's shore," he said.

But several House members from Florida said they liked the new bill. Rep. Jim Davis, R-Tampa, said it would "stop drilling proponents in their tracks and provide lasting protections."

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I like this neutral approach, and I seal it with a stamp of approval.

However, if the oil companies were to drill 100 mi. offshore, I do know that we would not see them. BUT, I also believe that it would be rare (and hard) for oil to somehow drift towards the shores, so that people would see it in the water. How exactly would this drilling affect the beaches?

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  • 1 month later...

Feds relent, will hold offshore drilling hearing in Florida

The Associated Press

March 13, 2006, 4:28 PM EST

TALLAHASSEE -- A federal agency developing a plan for oil and natural gas drilling off Florida's shores has agreed to hold a public hearing in Tallahassee next month after initially snubbing the state, Sen. Mel Martinez said today.

The Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department, last week began holding a series of 13 meetings on its next five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing program that would include a huge area in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Panhandle.

Martinez, R-Fla., and other Florida politicians complained that none of the meetings were scheduled in the state. Most are being held in Alaska with others scheduled in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Virginia. The added Florida meeting is scheduled for April 6.

"I'm glad that MMS has recognized their oversight and scheduled a hearing in the one place that has expressed the most concern about this proposal," Martinez said in a statement. "I am positive that what MMS is going to hear from the people of Florida is that we need to find a way to permanently protect Florida's shores from the continued encroachment of offshore drilling."

Martinez, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and 22 of Florida's 25 U.S. House members have gone on the record against an MMS plan to open about 2 million acres called Area 181 that's about 100 miles south of the Panhandle and 200 miles west of Tampa Bay.

They contend drilling would pose a pollution threat to the state's beaches and the tourism industry that depends upon them and harm military training and weapons testing in the eastern gulf.

MMS officials say offshore sources of oil and natural gas should be explored due to sharp increases in energy prices.

President Bush in 2001 assured Florida officials, including his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, that Area 181 would be protected at least through this year.

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