Ongoing oil spill prompts Democrat responses

Democrats on Thursday clamored for an end to talk about opening state waters to oil drilling in the wake of an ongoing spill off the Louisiana coast.

U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson Thursday sent a letter to President Obama telling him that he’s filing legislation to block the expansions of offshore oil drilling announced by the president on March 31. Nelson said the spill could become an “environmental and economic disaster that wreaks havoc for commercial fishing and tourism along the Gulf of Mexico coast.”

The Florida House Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning held hearings before developing draft legislation earlier this month that would allow drilling rigs within three miles of the coast. Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park and the committee chairman, said the House would not take up drilling legislation because there was no appetite for it in the Senate.

Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Sen. Dan Gelber, and agriculture commissioner candidate Scott Maddox and a pair of House Democrats were among those issuing statements against drilling. Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, said he gives Gov. Charlie Crist credit for supporting drilling but raising concerns now as a result of the spill. Kriseman issued a statement with Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota.

“I hope it would be as obvious to Dean Cannon and the rest of the Republicans supporting this idea that it’s not a good idea,” Kriseman told The Florida Tribune.

Cannon said in a response statement issued Thursday night: “I completely agree with Sen. Nelson’s call for a full investigation of all the facts and circumstances surrounding this accident. Until we have all of the facts and all the answers about what happened and why, we shouldn’t move forward.”

(Story content provided by the Current, produced by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)