With the massive and ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico spewing millions of gallons into the nation’s marine waters, now is the time for our elected government to allow us, the citizens of Florida, to decide whether we want to allow oil and gas exploration in our state waters.
Our state waters stretch from our beaches to three miles out in the Atlantic, and nine miles out into the Gulf. I am hopeful that Gov. Charlie Crist will soon call a special session, and that the Legislature will pass a joint resolution to put this issue on the November 2010 ballot. Allow us the opportunity to amend Florida’s Constitution, and stop any chance of this ever happening right next to our shoreline.
I can think of no more crucial issue to Florida’s economy and ecology. We rely on tourism and the trademark of white sandy beaches to create and retain jobs. If the ongoing spill had happened right off Naples, Jacksonville, Tampa or Miami, our entire economy would take a hit that would last years. It is the last thing we need to have to worry about. If the amendment passes, oil drilling will continue in the Gulf, just not right next to Florida.
Where the massive spill south of Pensacola will end up, and which communities will have to pay the price, we do not yet fully know. But citizens should be allowed to make their opinions known in November. This is an issue that supersedes Republican, Democratic or independent partisan politics. It is an issue about our future.
Let us vote.
Preston T. Robertson
Florida Wildlife Federation