EPA opposes drilling off Florida coast

Oct 13, 1999 02:00 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has come down firmly on the side of opponents to Chevron USA's proposed natural gas drilling project in the Gulf of Mexico, 26 miles south of Florida's Pensacola Beach.
In a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency said it agreed with the state of Florida's appeal to Commerce that the oil company's drilling plans for the Destin Dome Block 56 Unit violated coastal management guidelines.
"EPA is submitting these comments because we believe that Chevron's application is inconsistent with Florida's Coastal Zone Management Plan," wrote John Hankinson, EPA regional administrator. "EPA is firmly committed to protecting Florida's unique coastal resources and we are concerned about the potential adverse environmental impacts of this project." In voicing the agency's opposition, the letter alluded to "potential environmental impacts" contained in a draft EIS prepared jointly by the EPA and the Minerals Management Service and released in August.
The ongoing controversy, which has ignited anti-drilling passions in the Sunshine State and even intruded into next year's presidential campaign, continues unabated, but it could be years before a final decision is made, probably in court, on Chevron' request to drill. The timing has thrown the issue into the middle of the presidential campaign, with drilling opponents bringing up a 1992 pledge by then-vice presidential candidate Al Gore to forever protect Florida's shoreline from offshore drilling.
Now that Gore is running for president, though, he has avoided getting involved in the debate over allowing Chevron to drill. However, Gore's advisers say that, under the law, he cannot get involved in the Chevron decision.

Source: IINX via Iinoil
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