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Scott says he'd support 'cautious' drilling for oil in the Everglades


Jumping on a suggestion offered up last week by Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachman, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday said he does support oil drilling in the Everglades, although he didn't make it clear how far he'd like to go. Oil drilling is currently limited to a small area held by the Collier family. It produces low grade crude, used for tarring roads -- not the high grade kind used to fuel vehicles.

Scott's reaction was quite different from Florida's previous governor. In 2008, when GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson told Florida reporters that he would be open to more drilling in the Everglades, then-Gov. Charlie Crist quickly interrupted.

"We would prefer we not do that," Crist said.

Here's what the Florida governor said, in answer to a question from the audience about whether he supports Bachman's suggestion that there be oil drilling in the Everglades.

"There’s a road in Naples called 'Oil Well Road.' So, we already have oil drilling,'' he said. "We’ve done it since I think 1943. I think first off people are very shocked that we have it already. They don’t know that. I think we have to be very cautious on any oil drilling, whether it’s already in the state, or in our beaches, or in the Gulf because we aren’t going to ruin our environment.

"With regard to the Everglades, I think we have to be very cautious if there’s going to be any more drilling. It’s my understanding, we haven't had any problems to date so my goal would be to be very cautious."

-- Times/Herald reporter Michael C. Bender contributed to this report