Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), as part of her economic agenda, has promised Americans that if she were elected president, she would turn the economy around in just one fiscal quarter. One benefit of doing so, she claims, is that gas prices would again fall to $2 a gallon, a plan dismissed by fellow candidate Jon Huntsman (R) as a not from “the real world.” This weekend, however, Bachmann said one of the ways she would reduce gas prices is by drilling for oil in the Florida Everglades, one of the nation’s most endangered ecosystems:
BACHMANN: The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that’s in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is. Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can’t responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn’t do it.
Watch it, via the Associated Press:
Among those who apparently don’t think drilling in the Everglades can be done responsibly is Bachmann’s primary opponent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). In 2007, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson (R) floated the possibility of drilling in the Everglades during his short-lived presidential campaign. Romney running for president then as he is now, said he would not support such a plan:
“You’re kidding?” said Romney, who also was campaigning in Florida. “Let’s take that off the table. We’re not going to drill in the Everglades. There are certain places in America that are national treasures and the Everglades is one of those.”
Former President George W. Bush also opposed Everglades drilling. In 2002, at Bush’s behest, the government repurchased $120 million of gas and oil drilling rights on nearly 400,000 acres of federally protected land to prevent drilling in the Everglades. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, also opposed the drilling plans.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, expanded offshore drilling would have little impact on gas prices, reducing the price of a gallon of gasoline only three cents over the next two decades. Drilling in the Everglades, then, amounts to jeopardizing the degradation of one of America’s most unique environmental treasures to save a few cents off a gallon of gas.