A Phone Call Would Have Been Nice

By: Keith Lang, The News Service of Florida
By: Keith Lang, The News Service of Florida

Tallahassee, FL - Campainging for governor, Rick Scott wasn’t particularly courteous when talking about President Barack Obama, whose policies he slammed on the campaign trail. But somehow the incoming governor was surprised this week to be left waiting for a courtesy call from Obama that never came: a heads up about a ban on new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scott, who was in Washington, D.C. this week along with 28 other newly-elected governors to get some face time with the beleaguered president, wondered aloud why the phone didn’t ring before Obama decided to reverse a previously-announced decision to expand oil drilling in federal waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Atlantic.

Prior to the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the spill that ensued, Obama had said he would allow more oil exploration in federal waters, an announcement that lit a fire under many environmentalists who supported his candidacy in 2008. However, this week U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar revealed that proposal had been drilled, saying new exploration would be allowed in bodies of water where it is already taking place.

Scott, who derided the president’s budget plans during the campaign as “Obama Math,” similarly said his drilling plans don’t add up either, calling the announcement "yet another example of government regulation impeding economic growth."

The reaction from the man Scott is replacing, however, was much more gushing. Outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist, for whom the clock strikes midnight Jan. 4, praised the decision this week, telling reporters that "to be clean and green as we go forward as a state and nation is only good for Florida."

Like Scott however, another newly-elected statewide official, U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, was not pumped about the announcement.

“The administration's new policy is an obstacle to job creation and imperils our national security by making us more dependent on foreign oil from hostile regimes," the Republican rock star said in one of his few public pronouncements since his landslide victory last month. “On this issue, the White House should have left politics out of the equation and based its decision on sound energy policy that advances our economic development and national security goals."

Rubio's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bill Nelson, said during a national television interview that "there's simply not going to be any drilling off of Florida as long as I'm senator." But state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who appears to want that period to last only two more years, hammered Nelson.
"It's another example of a job-killing policy led by the President and, unfortunately, embraced by Sen. Bill Nelson," Haridopolos said. Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, had been a vocal supporter of a plan to allow drilling in near-shore state waters, but after the BP oil spill, both he and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said they would not push the legislation during their terms at the helm of the Florida Legislature.

By week’s end, it wasn’t clear if Scott was able to air out his grievances with Obama during the group meeting, which the president noted was attended by many proud Democrats, “though not as many as I expected.” What changed of course was the election of Scott and a host of other Republicans in November.

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