In the latest green news, Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor is marking Earth Day by filing a bill long sought â and long denied â by the Florida delegation and most Democrats: a permanent ban on offshore drilling around the state's Gulf coast.
Initial media reaction is that the bill has a tough road ahead of it, caught up in the Democratic leadership's lack of desire to revisit the contentious issue after a 2006 compromise that resulted in a temporary ban for Florida until 2022. Caster has led the fight in recent days against an effort to open Florida offshore drilling grounds for natural gas exploration, a Republican-led effort that had hoped to take advantage of public dismay with rising energy prices.
From her office comes these quotes from the Democrat:
âIt is ridiculous, not just ironic that they are trying to allow drilling as part of a beach water-quality bill. If they go as far as to introduce an oil drilling amendment in a beach water-quality bill, I donât know what else they wouldnât do,â said Castor.
âDrilling off of our beautiful beaches is the energy policy of the past,â said Castor. âIf President Bush and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle truly wanted to address high oil prices, they should have voted with the Democratic majority to take the huge tax breaks away from the big oil companies at a time that they are making record profits. Instead of these huge tax breaks for big oil the New Democratic Congress wants to invest those dollars in alternative energy and transportation opportunities to break our addiction.â
âWe are fighting for a new direction on energy policy and renewable sources of energy. We value our natural environment, and we value the public health of our communities,â Castor continued. âTomorrow, we will celebrate the 38th Earth Day, which gives us an opportunity to focus on the key challenges facing us in preserving our planet.â
âThis yearâs Earth Day coincides with a deepening economic crisis in America. Thatâs why the New Direction Congress has begun to address the global warming crisis and to spur a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous economy for the American people,â said Castor. âWe have begun to reverse the failed energy policies of the past, committing instead to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy for the future. By focusing on rapidly expanding the production of clean, alternative energy and reducing our use of oil, we can both reduce global warming and create green jobs.â
âMore can and must be done to deal with these challenges facing us in preserving our planet and strengthening our economy,â Castor concluded. âWe shouldnât be endangering Floridaâs natural environment and vital tourism economy for 25 days worth of oil and 35 days worth of natural gas, which is all that is estimated to be produced by the area opened up under the compromise of 2006.â
Here's a good piece by the League of Conservation voters on Dubya's obsession with fouling our tourist beaches.
(Photo by Enrico Strocchi)Â