Oil Drilling in the Everglades: Will a Romney Victory Make It Happen?

Mitt Romney is consistently inconsistent on most issues. From a fiery right wing acceptance speech in Tampa where the US would find itself in eight different foreign wars to agreeable foreign policy statesman in Boca Raton on Monday, Floridians have seen it all. But one place where Romney has been consistent is on domestic oil production. This point of view represents a grave threat to Florida’s economy, our wildlife and our sustainability.

Romney’s plan clearly states that states would be left in charge determining whether to drill on federal lands. This means the Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve, Everglades National Park, Ocala National Forest and other protected federal lands.

Governor Romeny would allow the Florida Legislature to determine whether to exploit and possibly destroy federally protected lands. Some of the lands that would be affected became federally protected specifically because the state of Florida and/or local governments planned developments in the area. Florida’s fragile ecosystem depends on environmental protection, restoration funds and taking a long-term view of the sustainability of the state.

Florida’s water supply is already under attack from developers, industrial  polluters and irresponsible elected officials in both parties. Romeny’s plan would give a state legislature which has shown no understanding  or regard for Florida’s history, natural beauty or resource/water management control over federally controlled lands within the state. The ramifications could be disastrous for all citizens of the state and destroy our tourism industry as well.

Earlier this year, many Republicans supported SB 1158, a bill that would help companies seeking to explore for oil and gas on state lands. Thankfully, this measure was stopped at the committee level, but as national Republicans make this issue a priority, Florida Republicans will almost certainly fall in line. This isn’t 2005 when many Florida Republicans stood heroically against national GOP  intervention in the Terry Schiavo matter. Today’s Florida Republicans are merely tools for the Washington right-wing think tanks and other Conservative national leaders including Mitt Romney.

Florida Democrats have failed to identify the environment as a critical issue this election cycle in Florida. It could be due the growing addiction of Florida Democrats to sugar money or the growing over emphasis on social issues nationally among Democrats. Florida Democrats this election cycle have yet to discuss openly and honestly Everglades Restoration on a consistent basis and have taken a pass on articulating views about the state’s dwindling clean water supply.

This state is a beautiful, unique place. We cannot afford to let Mitt Romney and his Republican minions in Florida destroy what mother nature created due to some mad ideological crusade.

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