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it's time to take action to prevent drilling off our shores

April 24, 2009


Dear PURRE Members: 

As you probably know there is a bill moving through the Florida House of Representatives that would change the current moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Florida’s coastal waters.

We think this is a good time to let your elected representatives know how you feel about the possibility of having oil rigs within sight of Sanibel and Captiva beaches – not to mention what an oil spill would do to our waters.

While you might read that offshore drilling technology has become much better and safer in recent years, the Minerals Management Service reported 124 oil spills caused by hurricanes in 2005. This is of critical importance to our membership and the residents of southwest Florida. 

While many believe this won’t make it due to the short time remaining in this session, there is strong support out there and enough time to push this through. It is hard to believe how anyone could think this is a good idea; nonetheless it is moving. Representative Paige Kreegel who represents the Northern part of Lee County said he expects the bill to come up for a vote “in the 11th hour.”  Rep. Kreegel chairs the House Energy Committee and will likely have a role in the final passage and appears to support opening up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling.    

Today the House of Representatives in Tallahassee debated this measure with a vote expected some time next week. The House Policy Council voted along party lines Tuesday to lift a legislative ban on drilling in Florida state waters (shore line to 10 miles out) and allow the governor and Cabinet to approve leases for oil drilling as close as three miles offshore.   

This is bad policy and bad politics.  According to reports this measure came as a surprise to the environmental community as the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting was not released until late Monday. It was also reported that backers of the bill were prepared with talking points and background materials that opponents did not see in advance of Tuesday’s meeting. Supporters of the measure cited a Mason-Dixon poll showing that 59% of respondents supported drilling off Florida’s coast.  

However that poll was done last year when gas was about $4 a gallon. It also indicated that the approval was contingent upon the drilling being safe and largely out of sight. Three miles offshore would not be out of sight, and what guarantee do we have that it will be safe? This appears to be a last-minute push of bad policy with misinformation and we cannot allow this to happen. 

Florida law now restricts oil exploration and drilling in state waters which begin three miles offshore and end at 10 miles. This proposal would lift the moratorium.  Companies that would seek a lease would have to put up a $1 million non-refundable deposit to seek state approval.  

Governor Crist, while campaigning with Senator John McCain last fall, supported offshore drilling as long as it was a safe distance away from Florida’s coastline. Earlier this week Governor Crist said he’s entertaining the plan because he’s “open minded” and “intrigued” by the potential to extract oil “in a way that is safe, in a way this is clean and in a way that generates a lot of revenue for the state of Florida.” This appears to be a change for him.  

Senator Bill Nelson issued a statement following Tuesday’s vote opposing the bill saying “I can’t believe some Florida lawmakers might actually be serious about allowing oil drilling within 10 miles offshore.”  

We think it would be a good idea to let the folks in Tallahassee know how you feel about this proposal.  Many voices opposing close-in oil exploration will have an impact. We suggest you contact the Governor, Lt. Governor and select members of the House and Senate.

Here are some suggestions with contact information.  The message is simple: Please oppose any efforts to allow oil and gas drilling in Florida’s near coastal waters.  

The Senate may tell you they have no plans to take up the bill but reports are that there may come a time before the end of next week where Senators are asked to support this measure. We are asking for their commitment to oppose any efforts to allow this to happen. 

Please act now. Thank you.

Dan Wexler, PURRE Public Policy Director
Michael Valiquette, PURRE Chairman

To contact Governor Crist
Office of Governor Charlie Crist
State of FloridaThe Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-0001

To contact Lt. Governor Kottcamp
Office of Lt Governor Kottkamp
State of FloridaThe Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, Fl 32399-0001

For the Senate:
If you choose to contact them by phone, we have listed the name of one of their Legislative Assistants. 

Senate President Jeff Atwater
Laura Coburn, Legislative Assistant 

Senator Dave Aronberg
Kristen Pesicek, Legislative Assistant 

Senator Mike Bennett
Jacquie Connell, Legislative Assistant 

For the House of Representatives

Larry Cretul, House Speaker
Gina Evans, Legislative Assistant

Gary Aubuchon
Paige Anne Biagi, Legislative Assistant

Paige Kreegel
Zachary Burch, Legislative Assistant

Kenneth Roberson 
Jae Williams, Legislative Assistant

Trudi Williams
Sheri Altstatt-Davie, Legislative Assistant

Nick Thompson
Katie Dickerson, Legislative Assistant

PURRE Water Coalition

13300-56 So. Cleveland Ave., Suite 256

Ft. Myers, FL 33907

239.274.7873, fax 239.275.7872;


think about this...

"We must build a peace in South Florida - a peace between the people and their place, between the natural environment and man-made settlement, between the works of man and the life of mankind itself. "
~ Florida Gov. Reubin Askew ~