Record oil prices are leading energy companies and American consumers to support oil and natural gas exploration off the Florida coast. Even politicians who were wary of the political risks of supporting drilling are jumping on the bandwagon. According to the Associated Press:
In Florida, movement was underway even before President Bush called on Congress last month to lift a federal moratorium that’s barred new offshore drilling since 1981.
The early activity here stems from a 2006 Congressional compromise that allows drilling on 8.3 million acres more than 125 miles off the Panhandle — an area that had been covered by the moratorium, which was enacted out of environmental concerns. In exchange, the state got a no-drilling buffer along the rest of its beaches.
Florida may turn out to be a prelude for other coastal states….
With gas topping $4 a gallon, recent polls show Americans, Floridians included, more supportive of drilling in protected areas. Some politicians — including Gov. Charlie Crist — have switched sides.