Manatee reacts to president's drilling proposal

MANTEE -- Local reaction to President Barack Obama's proposal to expand offshore drilling 125 miles off Southwest Florida beaches ranged from hostile to lukewarm today. A sample:

“Florida’s economy has tanked right now. If you really want to put the nail in the coffin, go ahead and start drilling. If our legislators don’t protect the only economy we have, shame on them. We have to be thinking about other alternatives.” -- Carol Whitmore, Holmes Beach resident and Manatee County commissioner.

“My feeling is this is another example of a president and a Democratic congress that is imposing their will on the nation, irrespective of the desires of the voters. I was completely surprised by the announcement this morning. I’m very disappointed in the manner in which they are addressing these very controversial matters.” -- Ron Gettman, Manatee County commissioner.

“I’m conflicted a little bit. I don’t want anything close to our beaches that would cause a possible spill. Over 100 miles away, we shouldn’t have any problems.” -- Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton.

“Our position for a number of years has been to oppose it within 125 miles of the coast. It’s in our 2010 business agenda.” -- Neil Spirtas, vice president of public policy and small business for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

“Very disappointed with the president’s proposal. It’s going the exact opposite way the country should be going, which is energy conservation. Conservation is a cheaper and healthier way to allow the country a way to develop alternative energy sources. As a a matter of national policy, it seems strategically reckless to drill for oil considering we have limited resources.” -- Glenn Compton, Manasota-88

“When you have young men dying in the Middle East, it's all about oil and money. We should be the global leader in developing alternative energy sources and then drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would be a moot point.“ -- Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

“Drilling for oil off of Florida’s west coast beaches would be a serious threat to Florida’s economy and jobs. Our long-term economic health is dependent on clean beaches and clean water. I oppose any threat to jobs and Florida’s tourism and fishing industries." -- U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida