Florida oil drilling opponents today called on Gov. Charlie Crist to include more coastal protections to his criteria for allowing offshore drilling.
Drilling supporters, meanwhile, touted support today for drilling from road and bridge builders -- although an endorsement letter from the group was issued more than a month ago.
Supporters say drilling can reduce dependence on foreign oil and produce at least $2.3 billion per year in state revenue. Opponents say drilling threatens the state's coastal tourism economy and that any estimates of revenues are speculative.
Gov. Charlie Crist reopened the debate a year ago when he suggested that drilling should be allowed if it could be clean enough, far enough and safe enough to protect Florida's coastline and environment. The House last year approved a bill to allow drilling within three miles of the coast but it failed to win Senate approval
Nine environmental groups today sent a letter to Crist asking him to also consider adding "financial accountability" and the "effects on existing coastal activities" to his principles on whether to allow drilling. That could align the governor with legislation to study the issue proposed last week by two Democratic senators.
"The risks posted by nearshore oil drilling, exploration, transportation and storage need to be carefully considered," the environmental groups wrote in their letter to Crist. "We are calling on you to help make sure this discussion is deliberative."
Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said the letter is being reviewed by the Governor's Office.
Ron Sachs Communications, which represents drilling supporter Florida Energy Associates, today publicized the Florida Transportation Builders' Association letter to Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, endorsing the drilling idea. "Finding new revenue streams without raising taxes is an idea everyone can support," Association President Robert G. Burleson stated in the Sept. 13 letter.
Ryan Banfill, vice president of Ron Sachs Communications, in an e-mail explained the timing only by saying that the endorsement was announced today. "Why today? Because today is a good day," Banfill wrote.