Push is on to allow Fla. offshore drilling

Aug. 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A powerful alliance of business interests says they're confident they'll soon overturn Florida's 20-year-old moratorium on offshore oil drilling.

Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida, said that unlike this year when a measure to end the moratorium died in the Florida Senate, next year will find success for the efforts in the state Legislature, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Sunday.

"I predict we'll pass the bill and the governor will sign it," Bishop said.

The newspaper said the Associated Industries of Florida, allied with a little-known coalition of independent oil producers known as Florida Energy Associates and Texas oil companies, have spent as much as $234,000 on legal work and lobbying since the last measure failed in April. Florida Energy Associates has contributed $35,000 to Republicans and $20,000 to Democrats since May, the newspaper said.

The business groups have recruited two powerful Republican legislators to put the bill forward in next year's session: Sen. Mike Haridopolos of Melbourne, Fla., who is slated to become Senate president, and Rep. Dean Cannon of Winter Park, Fla., who is in line to become House speaker in 2010, the Times said.

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