Bush says plan brings oil drilling too close

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 11:57 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he's opposed to the proposed shifting of boundaries that would allow oil drilling as close as 100 miles form Florida's coast.
Last week, the Department of Interior drew new boundaries that could give Louisiana authority over millions of acres now controlled by Florida. Louisiana freely allows drilling.
He said the proposal from his brother's administration is "a consequence of inaction" by Congress.
"Congress basically went and got front and center on the policy-making aspects of this. So they didn't do it. So now the Department of Interior, as I forewarned, has submitted their proposed lines," Bush said.
"I don't know how it will play out," he said. "I will oppose this."
Bush had previously negotiated a deal with U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Resources Committee and an advocate for expanded drilling in the Gulf.
That proposal would have given the state permanent control out to 125 or 150 miles of shore in exchange for federal authority in deeper waters.
But lawmakers killed the deal largely because of opposition in the U.S. Senate, including Florida's two senators, Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Mel Martinez, a Republican.
Bush said the legitimacy of the newly proposed boundaries is based on legal standards that are "time-tested," but they put "us at a disadvantage."
"The problem is that what's being proposed provides far fewer protections than what we have now and far fewer protections than what we negotiated with Pombo," Bush said.
Pombo has also expressed concern about the proposed boundary shift, saying the previous plan was the result of input from all affected states.
Nelson and Martinez are also opposing the proposal. Nelson said Congress could block the new boundaries by either cutting funding or drawing their own boundaries.

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