A week into his tenure, new Florida Sen. George LeMieux is flexing some legislative muscle. He's told Republican Leader Mitch McConnell he'll block the Senate's energy bill until Florida's concerns are addressed.
A provision in the bill would open Florida shores to oil and gas exploration, but wouldn't compensate the state for it. In the letter, LeMieux says he wants to be consulted "before any efforts or agreements are reached to advance legislation dealing with drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."
A staffer said LeMieux believes that "if energy exploration is going to occur in Florida waters, Florida ought to have a say in how that's done and receive its fair share of revenue." He noted LeMieux could support something that was "far enough, clean enough, safe enough and included revenue" -- words nearly identical to those of the man who appointed LeMieux to the seat, Gov. Charlie Crist.
It's a departure from retired Sen. Mel Martinez's opposition to offshore exploration in Florida waters, but it reflects Crist's position. The guv, who is running for the Senate seat, last summer began backing away from his opposition to oil drilling. He suggested in July he could accept something that was "far enough, clean enough and safe enough to protect Florida's beautiful beaches."
Wonder what it portends for LeMieux's relationship with Sen. Bill Nelson, who frequently said he and Martinez were "joined at the hip" in their opposition to oil drilling?