Deepwater Horizon Spill Changes Florida Minds
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Government leaders, emergency personnel and cleanup experts are meeting in Tallahassee today to discuss the best ways to respond if, and when, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill strikes Florida beaches. A new poll shows the spill may have swayed many Florida voters. Fifty-five percent now oppose drilling off Florida's coast, while 35 percent support it - almost a complete reversal from polling results one year ago.
Even some politicians are singing a different tune. Steve Bousquet, Capitol Bureau Chief for the St. Petersburg "Times," reports that both the incoming speaker of the Florida House, Dean Cannon, and the next Senate president, Mike Haridopolos, have backed off from their efforts to bring drilling closer to Florida's shores.
"Any likelihood of drilling, the bottom has fallen completely out. And that's to be expected. They're now hands-off drilling, and they will be for a very long time."
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says this threat of economic and environmental disaster should convince politicians to consider clean energy alternatives like greater fuel efficiency, hybrid and electric cars, and bio-diesel.
"It should be an absolute wake-up call that we need to get serious about ending our addiction to fossil fuels. What's important to our national security and our future is that we develop the alternatives, not that we stay locked into high-risk energy choices like offshore drilling."
Bousquet says Florida legislators, particularly in the business-oriented Florida House, considered bills the last two sessions that would have expanded offshore drilling. Now, Gov. Crist may call a special session to consider a constitutional amendment to prohibit drilling, because he says the Deepwater Horizon spill has put the "kibosh on drilling off the Florida coast."