Nelson to Obama: I can't support Kerry-Lieberman energy bill

The Kerry-Lieberman bill would allow offshore drilling to continue, but would place tighter restrictions on where that oil could be drilled.

Senator Nelson in Florida isn't the only member of that august body who doesn't want any drilling near his home state.  Today, six west coast Senators (California's Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, Oregon's Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Washington state's Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray) filed a bill that would ban offshore drilling on the west coast.  That's even after Obama has declared that there is nothing doing there until 2017.

Meanwhile, a new national poll released yesterday says the American people still support offshore drilling, despite the current calamity.

The AP poll found that by 50 percent to 38 percent more people favor increased coastal drilling for oil and gas than oppose it. Republicans favor it by a 3-to-1 margin, while Democrats lean toward opposing it, 52 percent to 36 percent. Independents are about evenly split.

Those numbers are way off from what people in Florida are saying.  Last week, a Mason/Dixon Poll found only 35 percent of Florida voters support drilling near the shores of their state while 55 percent are opposed.

Florida Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has written a letter to President Obama, just a day after Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled their long awaited energy/climate bill, to inform Obama that he cannot support the legislation as currently written.

In the letter, Nelson cites (as he frequently has in the past), military concerns and drilling too close to a missile testing range  near Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle.  And he states that:

The bill could allow drilling in federal waters close to states’ coastlines, including along the Atlantic seaboard.  It would be up to states, like Florida, whether to establish a 75-mile no-drill zone.  As a result, the bill could cede to the Florida Legislature decisions about commercial and other activities where we have a unique U.S. military installation and national missile testing range.

The bill introduced yesterday by Kerry and Lieberman has been a long time coming.  It's huge (near a thousand pages), and it's missing a Republican sponsor, as South Carolina's Lindsey Graham backed off in recent weeks because....well, partly he says because the atmosphere has changed because of the oil spill in the Gulf.  Some might think this is the opportune time to discuss energy, but somehow Graham thinks its not.  He's also been reported to be displeased about President Obama talking about an immigration bill, which hasn't yet been introduced in the Senate.  Energy has, but Graham doesn't want to have anything to do with it now.

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