Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposed lifting the federal ban on offshore oil drilling in Florida. “There are areas off our coasts that should be open to exploration and exploitation, and I hope we can take the first step by lifting the moratoria,” he said, a stark departure from his previous support of the ban.
As the Energy Information Administration noted, lifting the offshore drilling moratorium would have only a minor impact on production and prices. But some Florida conservatives are jumping on the McCain plan anyway. Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) — widely considered a possible McCain running mate — as late as last week opposed the drilling. Today, he flip-flopped and announced he supports McCain:
Crist, last week:
Q: Gov. are you dropping your opposition to drilling for oil off of Florida’s coast?
CRIST: I am not. … No. 1, I don’t like it.
“What we ought to be willing to do is study it,” he said. “Reaching a conclusion about what is right or not right at this juncture is hard to do.”
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) who was once “joined at the hip” with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in opposing offshore oil drilling, also linked up with McCain today:
I think it’s about providing enough resources where the states want to do it . … The governor seems to have agreed with him (on drilling) and I kind of agree with him so maybe things are changing in that regard.
Florida politicians of both parties “have worked to keep the drilling ban in force along Florida shores for more than 25 years,” the Miami Herald observed today. Many fear “it would harm the state’s beaches that are so vital to its tourism.” Former Governor Jeb Bush (R) has also pushed hard for the ban on drilling.
MSNBC noted today, “No Republicans in Florida have gotten elected statewide without endorsing the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling…if Crist tries to rationalize the McCain decision then we’ll really find out just how much he wants on the ticket.”