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Supporters Gain Momentum for Drilling

September 27, 2009

OilRigThe Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports on the growing momentum for advocates of oil drilling off the Florida coastline.

Currently, drilling is not allowed with 225 miles of Tampa Bay. Both advocates and proponents of drilling say they cannot recall another time when that boundary seemed less solid.

Strengthening the prospects for drilling proponents is that no Florida elected leaders are on the two committees drawing up legislation.

Florida’s Legislature is expected to consider a change in state law early next year that would set the stage for oil drilling far closer than any of the federal advocates are seeking to go — within 3 miles in some areas.

Such a move at the state level would make it harder for anti-drilling forces in Congress to rally behind their longtime defensive position that Floridians oppose oil drilling because it is a threat to the state’s fragile environment and its No. 1 industry, tourism.

In the Senate, all eyes are on Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, and on Senate Bill 1462, which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

That bill would allow drilling 45 miles from Florida’s coastline.

It is expected that Dorgan’s idea will eventually be combined with a larger bill to address global climate change.

Drilling camp making inroads [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

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