Oil Spill Changing Governor's Position

Governor Charlie Crist boarded a plane Tuesday afternoon, heading to the Louisiana oil spill to see if there’s a threat to Florida’s shoreline.

“We don’t know how soon or how much, the idea is to go out there with Secretary Sol, and make sure that we do everything we can in the event that more of it comes our way,” said Crist.

News of the spill has the governor and legislative leaders backing down from their efforts to explore oil drilling in state waters.

Legislation postponed this session would have allowed the governor and state cabinet to broker deals with oil companies to bring rigs as close as three miles from shore.

Support for offshore oil drilling grew in Florida after gas prices soared above four dollars in the summer of 2008.

That’s when Crist, a former opponent of drilling, first changed his position, citing the high prices and newer, safer drilling technology.

“It would depend on the parameters; how far off the coast, how safe it would be, how much it would protect our beaches,” said Crist in a June 2008 interview.

Crist says the spill less than 30 miles from the Louisiana gulf coast doesn’t meet his standards.

“I’m not sure this was far enough. I’m pretty sure it was not clean enough. And it doesn’t sound like it was safe enough,” said Crist.

Legislative leaders plan to visit oil rigs this summer to do their own research on the risk Florida faces if the legislature decides to lift the ban.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum came out strong against oil drilling today.

McCollum says if he’s elected he will veto any legislation lifting the ban.

Democratic frontrunner Alex Sink has been a long time opponent of drilling in Florida.

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