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Aronberg, Deutch: Study, baby, study before drill, baby, drill

Democratic Sens. Ted Deutch and Dave Aronberg just released a draft of their own proposal dealing with oil drilling off Florida's coast.

But their proposed legislation is not what oil proponents want. Instead, Aronberg and Deutch propose a task force to study the pros and cons of drilling offshore -- something Republican leaders including future Senate president Mike Haridopolos and House speaker designate Dean Cannon want to get going soon as what they consider a revenue generator.

The task force would look at the environmental and economic consequences of an oil spill, said Aronberg, who is running for Attorney General. The nine-member task force would consist of the AG, CFO, transportation and environmental protection secretaries, a labor representative and the heads of other state agencies such as Fish and Wildlife. The Senate president and House speaker would also appoint members representing experts in economics and the environment, as would the chambers' minority leaders.

Aronberg and Deutch say the issue of oil drilling is too complex and has too much potential impact on the Sunshine State to move quickly.

"We are concerned there has been a rush to drill. This whole 'drill, baby drill' mentality needs to slow down," Aronberg said. "Because what is at stake is the future of Florida for our grandchildren, our environment. Let's have a full and thorough analysis of this proposal to drill. Let us review the environmental consequences of this proposal. We feel the reviews (to date) have been one-sided. We need to have the environmental consequences become part of this process."

Added Deutch: "We need to know what the risks are and what might happen with any potential spill."

They want it to be considered as soon as a November special session, if there is one. It would meet starting January 2010 and issue its final report by the end of 2010. But as with any legislation, it has to get through committees. And this one likely would be sent to the energy and utilities committee headed by Majority Leader Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla -- whose wife lobbies for the major group pushing oil drilling, among other energy clients.

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