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Gov. Crist Willing to Go to Court over Offshore Drilling?

July 21, 2008

Miami, FL - Florida is being portrayed as a state ready to "get tough" - on foreign oil dependence and critics of increased offshore oil exploration - by lifting the offshore drilling ban. Governor Charlie Crist has been quoted as saying he's considering going to court to guarantee the state's right to permit offshore oil exploration.

A poll released last week shows 67 percent of U.S. voters support expanded offshore drilling. But Holly Binns, field director for Environment Florida, a group that is part of the Gulf Restoration Network, believes the public needs to scrutinize the argument that "more drilling equals lower gas prices" - especially in light of record-breaking oil company profits.

"I'm not sure why anyone thinks that if we open these last areas up to drilling, oil companies would somehow turn around and lower gas prices for consumers."

Steve Kretzmann agrees. As executive director of Oil Change International, a group that campaigns to acquaint the public with the "true costs of oil," he says much research has been done on the oil production potential off Florida's coast. However, he says even Bush administration scientists have assessed that this production won't lower consumer gas prices for years. That's one reason there has been such wide support for a drilling ban in the past.

"The amount of additional oil that we would produce offshore is a real drop in the bucket from a global perspective, and it's not really going to make any difference in price at all."

Binns says she understands that families are hurting because of record-high gas prices, but adds that Crist is also breaking a campaign promise by supporting offshore drilling. Last week, the governor was in England, where he announced a renewable energy agreement with a company that will work on reducing carbon pollution - pollution that comes from oil and gas.

Learn more about Oil Change International at http://priceofoil.or; and about Environment Florida at

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - FL