Environmental Groups Pressuring Governor to Maintain No-Drilling Stance

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Environmental groups say Jeb Bush is caving to pressure from Congress and oil execs who want to put more rigs in the Gulf.

The Sierra Club and others gathered in Tallahassee to remind the governor of his tough talk in 2001, that there wouldn't be any drilling under his watch in an area called "Lease Sale 181" off the Florida coast, an area now under negotiation in Washington.

Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club says, "The sad news in Florida is that our governor did not take a forthright stand to say this is not the right solution.”

But Jeb Bush says he hasn't sold out. The governor says he's not going back on his word, just dealing with political realities. The governor says he’s supporting a proposal that would allow some drilling farther out in the Gulf, but would make waters in a 120 to 125-mile swath around Florida off limits.

Gov. Jeb Bush says, "Which enhances, creates more acreage under protection. That cannot be considered a retreat."

But the environmentalists waived pictures of the largest platform in the Gulf off the Louisiana coast, still damaged after Hurricane Ivan.

They warn the train wreck could be in Florida’s future if the governor doesn't stand up to the oil industry and just say no to more drilling.

Several state lawmakers have filed their own legislation to protect Florida’s waters from drilling, and it's expected to be a major campaign issue for the 2006 election season.