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Rep. Buchanan asks President to stop Cuba's new offshore drilling plans

2:55 AM, Oct 2, 2010   |    comments
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Sarasota, FL - Images of the devastating BP spill may be months old but the pain people feel in their pockets is still fresh. Even here in the Bay area where we didn't see a drop of oil.

"We want clean water and clean beaches," said Representative Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota), who wants to keep it that way.

So when he heard of Cuba's plans for drilling platforms only 50 miles from Florida's coastline, he fired off a letter on Friday to the Commander in Chief, urging him to take action.

"They're talking about drilling deeper than BP, which was 5,000 feet, and I have no confidence they will be able to drill safely at that level," said Buchanan.

The issue of offshore drilling hits home for the congressman because, in his congressional district alone, businesses took a 20 percent hit because of the BP spill.

He says his concern with Cuba's potential platforms being so close to our coast is, "If they had a spill, [it] would be up on our shores in a matter of three days."

Buchanan is only one of a few republicans who have taken a stand against offshore drilling. "I was at the convention when they said, 'Drill, Baby, Drill.' It was awkward for me but the bottom line is that I don't agree with them. I think they're putting too much at risk in Florida."

Beachgoers on Lido Beach in Sarasota had plenty to say on this topic. Pam Rylott of Sarasota said, "If Mr. Buchanan thinks it is unsafe, than I probably would think he probably knows more about it than I do."

However, Ed D'Young of Fort Walton Beach disagreed when he said, "I think it is all overblown. It is as safe as anything else."

Jan Nellen of Sarasota said, "If it can be stopped through negotiation, that would be the best. One less platform too close to a coast. I'm for it."

Buchanan hopes his letter helps do something about it because he says his job as a congressman is to keep the kinds of pictures from the BP spill from capturing Florida's coastline.

News of Cuba's proposed oil platform comes at the same time Cuban, Mexican and American scientists are working together at Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory. Their goal is to develop a mutual, long-term research plan for all three countries regarding the Gulf oil spill. 

Erica Pitzi, 10 News Reporter

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