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Fla. panel passes offshore drilling bill

Fla. panel passes offshore drilling bill
Florida Governor Charlie Crist (UPI Photo/Jeff Daly) | License Photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 22 (UPI) -- A Florida legislative committee has passed a measure to open up the cash-strapped state's Gulf of Mexico coastline to oil drilling.

The House Policy Council voted 17-6 Tuesday to approve a bill that opens Florida waters to exploration, in which the state would charge $1 million non-refundable application fees for every oil company that submits a bid for offshore leases, The Miami Herald reported.

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The measure would lift Florida's ban on oil drilling in state waters and replace it with a process to let the governor and Florida Cabinet allow oil exploration in the Gulf between 3 and 10 miles offshore, the newspaper said.

"We're giving the governor and Cabinet that chance to have that dialogue with no obligation whatsoever," said Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Orlando. "But we are taking away the shackles that currently prohibit Florida from not only pursuing energy independence but economic development and security and environmental protection."

The measure did not have a state Senate companion, but Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, saying he is "intrigued" by the idea, indicated there may be time in the current legislative session to consider it, the Herald reported.

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