The Bush administration last Wednesday unveiled a $235 million plan to buy back the development rights for offshore oil reserves along Florida’s Gulf Coast from several petroleum companies.
President Bush announced the decision in a public appearance with his brother, Governor Jeb Bush. The buyout will prevent further development of offshore drilling operations in Florida’s coastal waters.
Many environmentalists praised the plan to protect the Florida shoreline. But activists in heavily-Democratic California have been pushing for a buyout in their own state for years. They say President Bush’s buoyout in Florida is a ploy to help his brother as he begins his re-election campaign.
State officials urged the federal government to stop new drilling under 36 leases held by oil companies, but the Clinton administration extended several leases that were set to expire. California state agencies and environmental groups filed a lawsuit in response, arguing that local authorities should be allowed to review the leases for compliance with existing laws.
The state won the suit in federal court. But the Bush administration appealed the ruling. Oral arguments are set to begin in San Francisco on Monday.
- Rachel Binah, environmental activist. She is a member of the DNC and former chairperson of the Environmental Caucus for the California Democratic Party. She owns a bed-and-breakfast inn in Mendocino, CA.
- Sara Wan, chairperson of the California Coastal Commission.Contact: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/
- Mitch Perry, reporter and assistant news director at WMNF radio in Tampa Florida.
- Equal Rights–Anthony B.