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VIN MANNIX COLUMN | Gulf drilling proponents nearly had us

They almost had us.

The “Drill, baby, drill” faction had us thinking maybe we were wrong about offshore drilling in Florida’s waters, especially the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

It will provide jobs.

It will mean much needed state revenue.

It will lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

Even more important to Floridians concerned about our pristine beaches and fragile ecosystem, it will be safe, they said.

So safe, thanks to state-of-the-art technology, they could drill three miles off our shores.

Which is what Florida legislators like incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, and incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, would’ve had us believe.

Not anymore.

Not after this.

The explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, the Cadillac of the industry’s rigs, and the subsequent gargantuan oil spill punctuates our argument against drilling off our shores.

You know how during hurricane season folks say it takes only one?

This oil spill is that one.

When national safety officials fear this could surpass the Exxon Valdez catastrophe in 1989 as the nation’s worst environmental disaster in decades, it is frightening.

How this oil spill is endangering Louisiana’s ecologically rich wetlands and wildlife and one of the world’s most abundant seafood grounds makes you stop and think.

That could be us.

In fact, after Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency Friday for fellow Floridians in six Panhandle counties, pray it doesn’t happen here.

Putting our coast at such risk in the future is folly.

All to satisfy the agenda of legislators doing the bidding of Big Oil.

And for what?

A 2009 report, ordered by the Florida Senate, stated “the total estimated reserves in Florida would satisfy the U.S. demand for oil — about 20 million barrels daily — for less than a week.”

Yeah.

That’s what some people would have us jeopardize our state and its $60 billion plus tourist-driven economy.

Drill, baby, drill.

They almost had us.

Until Deepwater Horizon blew up in their faces.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification purposes.

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