Drilling off Florida also hot issue
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JANUARY 26, 2001

Although drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has occupied the minds of many since the election, drilling off the Florida coast might prove to be a hot issue for the new President George W. Bush administration.

There is currently a moratorium on new leases for oil drilling in parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, supported by Governor Jeb Bush, Bush's brother, and Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.). Graham asked Secretary of Interior nominee Gale Norton about the issue during testimony last week and Norton said they would not seek new leasing there.

But there is a proposal before the Interior to auction off rights to a six-million acre field in the Gulf not covered by the moratoriu. It is in an area closer to Alabama and near Florida.

Norton hasn't specifically commented on that issue. Governor Bush wrote a letter to the acting Secretary, Thomas Slonaker, hoping his brother's administration won't approve exploration in this area.

Get the Story:
Oil-Drilling Issue Could Set Bush Against Bush (The New York Times 1/26)
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Jeb Bush to Washington: No new drilling in Gulf off Florida (AP 1/26)