On Earth Day, Crist says he’s open-minded to drilling

Celebrating Earth Day outside the Capitol on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Crist said he is open minded to HB 1219, which would allow oil drilling off the Florida coast.

“I think the more diversified we can be when it comes to the energy resources that we have the stronger that makes Florida and America,” Crist said. “The experience last summer tells you when gas goes above $4 (a gallon), people want options. They want solar, wind, nuclear — any option we can exercise responsibly and safely.”

To address climate change, Crist has proposed requiring utilities to produce more electricity from renewable energy and establishing automobile standards to reduce pollution and improve fuel-efficiency. Yet the House has not acted on either proposal.

Asked whether he thought the House was trying to buck his environmental agenda, Crist said, “Let’s find out May 1 (the last day of the legislative session).”

“I’m more encouraged this week,” he continued. “I had good conversations with Rep. Baxter Troutman on some biomass issues. I think that’s going to get some things moving forward.”

Outside the Capitol, hundreds of schoolchildren received “Serve to Preserve” patches from the governor and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole while state agencies set up booths to promote their environmental programs.

“We have taken this issue of climate change and depoliticized it, I think,” Crist told the crowd. “You see a bipartisan group of legislators with us today and a nonpartisan group of children with us today. And it is because of their heart and because of their leadership in the House and the Senate and the children throughout the state of Florida — they get it.

They understand how important it is to protect we protect this beautiful state we call Florida,” he said. “There is no place prettier.”