Monday, November 9, 2009

Sen. Dave Aronberg Praises Senate President's Decision to Appoint A Committee to Conduct An Offshore Drilling Study

Senator Dave Aronberg (D-Greenacres) on Monday praised Senate President Jeff Atwater’s decision to ask the staff of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee to conduct a detailed and comprehensive review of the implications of the offshore drilling process.

Aronberg, who, along with Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) is sponsoring legislation that would ensure the future of Florida’s coastline remains in the state’s hands, said the move by the Senate president would more thoroughly vet a process which, until now, has largely been driven by drilling advocates and their legislative allies.

“President Atwater understands that this is a complex issue that could have an extraordinary impact on the intrinsic beauty and overall environmental quality of our coastline that make our great state unique,” Aronberg said. “Before we consider lifting any bans, we must give careful consideration and evaluation to the impact drilling will have on our coastal communities and the state’s economy.” 

“To date, we have not adequately explored the possible repercussions that could result from taking such swift actions. President Atwater’s study would provide the review needed to begin understanding the precautions that must be taken to protect Florida’s natural resources while at the same time being mindful of the impact a potential modification of the drilling ban could have on our economy.”

Legislation proposed by Senators Aronberg and Deutch is designed to present a thorough panorama of what oil drilling would mean to the residents of Florida. The legislation will create the Florida Energy Independence and Coastal Protection Task Force, a group dedicated to studying the issue and reporting on the economic and environmental impacts of and alternatives to lifting the ban on allowing oil drilling in Florida waters.

“The Committee appointed by President Atwater has a significant task. It appears that the committee will examine many of the issues our legislation would have charged the task force with reviewing, including questions of state energy policy, risks to our tourism-based economy and potential economic and state revenue benefits that would result from lifting the ban,” Aronberg said.

“I plan on working closely with the President’s office and the committee to ensure a comprehensive review is conducted and determine if a diverse task force, comprised of both citizens and policymakers, would provide a more comprehensive and long-term examination of the issue of oil drilling.”

The Task Force originally proposed by Senators Aronberg and Deutch would consist of nine nongovernmental members and three members appointed by the Governor, two by the President of the Senate, two by the Speaker of the House, one by the Senate Minority Leader and one by the House Minority Leader. There would also be several ex-officio designees from various government agencies.

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