Presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has company in her call for oil drilling in the Florida Everdglades: the state’s governor supports it as well. Gov. Rick Scott (R) was speaking to members of the Economic Club of Florida when an audience member asked him if he agreed with Bachmann’s call for drilling in the Everglades. Rather than oppose it like most Florida politicians, he was supportive of “cautious” drilling:
“With regard to the Everglades, I think we have to be very cautious if there’s going to be any more drilling. It’s my understanding at least, we haven’t had any problems in the Everglades to date,” Scott said.
Scott, who lived in Collier County before becoming governor, noted that there was already a small amount of oil production that has been going on for decades in the Everglades.
“We already have oil wells in the Everglades. There’s a road in Naples that’s called ‘Oil Well Road,” Scott said. “So, we already have oil drilling. We’ve done it I think since 1943…I think first off people are very shocked that we have it already. They don’t know that.”
Within hours of the event, his office retreated from the statement. “Governor Scott has not called for an expansion of drilling in the Everglades,’’ said Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham. “That discussion is not on the table.”
Environmentalists warned Scott against supporting drilling in the Everglades unless he wanted to anger the Floridians who enjoy the Everglades for recreation and the millions who depend on it for their water supply. “My suggestion to the Governor is quite simple: Don’t go there,’’ said Kirk Fordham, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit formed to protect the Everglades.
And many Republican leaders stand with the environmentalists instead of Scott and Bachmann on this issue. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) slammed Bachmann’s “incredible faux pas” about supporting oil drilling in the Everglades. In the 2008 presidential campaign, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), who is also currently running for president, said Everglades drilling is not an option. Former President George W. Bush opposed the drilling in 2002 when he pushed for the government to repurchase oil drilling rights to prevent drilling in the Everglades, and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), opposes the drilling as well.