Is Offshore Oil Drilling in the Gulf the Solution to Fuel Shortage?

The push for new sources of domestic energy means Florida may lose its protection from oil and gas exploration. Environmentalists are outraged about legislation backed by the oil industry.

Florida’s scenic coastline is the latest target for the oil industry. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted fuel supplies, congress is looking for new sources of domestic energy.

Proposed legislation calls for natural gas drilling 25 miles from the coast and oil drilling from 50 miles. State representative Donna Clarke, who chairs the new Florida oceans and resources council, knows this will be a tough fight.

The proposed legislation also offers big incentives for states to allow drilling, billions of dollars in royalties. Cars today get fewer miles to the gallon than they did 20 years ago, that’s why environmentalists say congress should mandate more fuel efficient cars rather than more exploration in the gulf.

Before Rita and Katrina, offshore drilling took a back seat to concerns about protecting the state’s beaches. But higher energy prices have apparently put the oil industry in the driver’s seat.

Florida’s congressional delegation used to be united in its opposition to offshore drilling, but Central Florida congressman john mica is sponsoring one of the pro drilling bills.