Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oily Florida Lawmakers Trash Earth Day: "Drill, Baby, Drill"

Benedict Arnold? Typhoid Mary? Move over. You've got company.

Gannett reporter Jim Ash, from Tallahassee:
Catching opponents off guard in the waning days of the session, House Republicans unveiled a dramatic proposal Tuesday to lift Florida's offshore drilling ban.

An amendment (HB 1219) by Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, passed the House Policy Council with less than 11 days left in the session. It would give the governor and the Cabinet the power to grant oil- and gas-drilling leases as close as 3 miles from shore.

"I just want to start a dialogue," Cannon said.

Dialogue? That's a hoot. Not only was the proposal filed just the night before the vote, but according to reporter Ash the "drill, baby, drill" coalition has been "working quietly behind the scenes with the legislative sponsors for months."

They even showed up for the abbreviated committee session with "a half-hour presentation and glossy handouts for committee members and reporters." Apparently, Florida Republicans want the "dialogue" to take place somewhere around 3 am, preferably while the public is sleeping.

Among the traitors to the Florida coastal environment are Northwest Florida's own Dave Murzin (R-Pensacola) and Greg Evers (R-Baker). You might think that they, more than most, would understand how oil drilling within three miles of the coast threatens both the environment and the economy of places like, say, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key.

You also might think that Murzin and Evers, whatever their ideology, at least would know that among their own coastal constituents are quite a number of highly educated and articulate citizens, business owners, and tourism offciials who, over the past several decades, have acquired so much expertise about the pros and cons of oil drilling off the Florida coast that Congress invites them to share their knowledge in Washington D.C..

Why didn't Murzin and Evers insist that their own constituents be included in the "dialogue"?

It's depressing enough to see legislators, caught in an ideologoical time warp, advancing outmoded and dangerous answers to the energy needs of the nation and the fiscal needs of the state. It's downright alarming when they secretly plot to shut out well informed voices in their own districts from participating in the debate.

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