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News that "a secretive group of powerful legislators, business groups and Texas oil companies has been laying the groundwork" to open Florida's shores to oil and gas drilling should make all of us sit up and pay attention.
A story by St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald delves into the machinations of the "Florida Energy Associates," a shadowy group that "identifies itself only by saying it is financed by a group of independent oil producers."

 Right whales are called such because years ago whale hunters thought these particular whales were simply the "right" ones to hunt. Their distinct V-shaped blow of water alerted whalers, and their habit of swimming near the surface made them easy targets.

Now, decades later, these endangered whales are swimming into danger again because of their propensity to swim near the surface.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Don Federico, a Panamanian fisherman who has spent more than 26 years at sea and has thousands of stories to share. He told us what it was like when he first began fishing:

"We saw dolphins, whales, sharks and turtles everywhere. Out of ignorance, the fishing boats would catch and kill upwards of 300 dolphins per day, and the children would play with turtle eggs on the beaches."

Now, less than three decades later, Don Federico explained that there is none of that.

The Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's northernmost shores, and the Chukchi Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia, are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. These icy waters are crucial feeding and migration zones for bowhead, beluga and other whales, seals, walruses and migratory birds; for thousands of years they have also sustained a vibrant Native culture. But the Bush administration treated America's Arctic as just another place to be exploited, relentlessly pushing oil and gas drilling without regard for the consequences.

We’re breathing a cautious sigh of relief here in Florida on the issue of offshore drilling. A dangerous bill that would have lifted the state’s offshore drilling ban appears to be dead. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Our state Senate President told reporters today that the Legislature has run out of time to hear the offshore oil issue. The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives 70-43 on Monday. If it isn’t heard in the Senate, the bill will die.

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