The Florida House gave approval Tuesday to a bill that may allow offshore drillers to drill off of Florida's coastal areas - right within sight of Florida's Gulf of Mexico beaches.
A surprise indeed. Dean Cannon, R- Winter Park, slated to be House leader next year and the man who introduced the legislation, calls for:
lifting the state's decades-old ban on rigs and giving the governor and Cabinet authority over proposals for drilling between 3 to 10 miles from shore.
And Rigzone adds more...
Industry boosters and legislators praised the concept in a meeting of the House Policy Council, calling it potentially lucrative for an economically depressed state and a needed step toward energy independence.
Environmentalists were outraged at the prospect of drilling so close to Florida's popular and environmentally sensitive coast and at Cannon's unexpected attempt to undo the state's drilling law during the chaotic last days of a session focused on a budget crisis.
"This bill represents pure insanity," said Frank Jackalone, staff director for Sierra Club in Florida.
The session is set to close next week, leaving little time for debate among House members and for the Senate to craft a companion bill. Though not backing off from fighting the proposal, environmentalists predicted Gov. Charlie Crist would veto the legislation.
Federal rules restrict drilling to 125 miles off Florida's coast, south of Pensacola.