Senate president calls for study of “complicated” drilling issue

Senate President Jeff Atwater today announced that Senate committee staff would conduct a detailed and comprehensive review of the implications of offshore drilling with no timeline for completion.

The House earlier this year approved a bill to allow oil drilling in Florida’s Gulf waters as close as three miles to the coast. But the Senate refused to act on the bill, which faced environmental opposition.

With drilling legislation expected to come back in 2010 or earlier in a special session, Atwater, R-Palm Beach, said outlined the issues that must be studied by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

“Offshore drilling is a complicated issue with significant ramifications for our state,” Atwater said. “The citizens of Florida deserve a thoughtful and deliberative conversation free of rancor or hyperbole, and the Senate intends to provide a structure for that conversation within our body.”

Other groups including Florida State University and the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida are also conducting their own analyses with possible results prior to the 2010 session, Atwater said. But a Senate news release indicated that the analysis “will be driven by the need for dispassionate review, not timelines or schedules.”

Eric Draper, an outspoken drilling opponent and a vice president of Audubon of Florida, said Atwater’s announcement was encouraging.

“Finally we’ve got a legislative leader who is slowing the process down to decide on an evaluation,” he said. “When they finish looking at everything they may end up deciding maybe we don’t need to consider this legislatively.”

Ryan Banfill, a spokesman for Florida Energy Associates, said of Atwater’s announcement: “The facts are on our side and we support moving forward with this historic discussion about establishing an energy sector in our economy that will create jobs for Floridians and generate money for the state.”

(Audubon’s Eric Draper was incorrectly identified as a drilling supporter in an earlier version of this story. regrets the error.)

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)

2 thoughts on “Senate president calls for study of “complicated” drilling issue”

  1. I see you fixed the description of Eric Draper, but deleted my comment? Shouldn't that be a strikeout and a correction with attention journalistic ethics?

    And this second comment will not be posted either?

  2. Your comment was inadvertently deleted. For our other readers I will note that you pointed out that Eric Draper was incorrectly identified as an oil drilling supporter. Draper is an outspoken drilling opponent.

    Your comment was posted to two stories, one of which was unrelated to the oil drilling issue. When I attempted to delete the comment from the unrelated story, somehow it also was deleted from the oil drilling story. I couldn't go back and recreate the comment, though I did try to recover it but failed.

    As a newspaper reporter, I tried to correct all errors because they remained in error in the printed edition. With an online story, the inaccurate information can be corrected immediately when it is caught. At that point I'm not sure there is a value in publishing a correction every time since the story is no longer incorrect. Yet if the story has been based on incorrect information or if the incorrect information has been out there quite some time, then a correction should be published.

    I probably should have erred on the side of printing a correction regarding Eric Draper's identification and will do so now. But the problem stemmed from the fact that there were many errors initially in the story because I hit the publish button accidentally on Monday night. The other errors were immediately fixed but that one slipped through.

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