The Shifting Politics of Oil: GOP Candidate Rick Scott

TAMPA (2010-07-01) -

Republican Rick Scott of Naples is the rare Florida candidate who still wants to expand drilling in the Gulf.

At a campaign event hosted by the Tampa Bay Young Republicans on May 25, he said it was crucial, but needed to be done safely.

“If there’s oil down there, we have to figure out how we can drill for it. But we have to create safeguards. I believe we can,” the St. Petersburg Times quoted him as saying.

When asked about it by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Scott said he supported giving Florida’s governor and three Cabinet members the authority to decide on drilling projects.

“To give the Cabinet the authority? Sure,” Scott said. “I absolutely do believe in that. ... I think when you get that authority, you’ve got to be careful. If they are going to do it, you have to hold them accountable for any mistakes they make and you are going to make sure it’s safe.

In May, Scott told WPLG-TV in Miami that the possiblity of safely drilling in the Gulf was part of a plan for the country to be energy independent.

“Absolutely, we have to become energy independent, financial security or national security, we have to become energy independent,” he said. “Now we have to look at nuclear, we have to look at alternative fuels and we have to do offshore drilling, but we have to do it safe.”

WUSF Public Broadcasting looked for a statement by Scott about drilling from before the spill, but could not find one. He entered the governor’s race at about the same time as the spill, and therefore has no public record on the issue.

From "Drill, Baby, Drill" to "Spill, Baby, Spill" - the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf has some elected leaders and political candidates scrambling to point out their opposition to offshore drilling - even if they once thought it was a good idea. WUSF has determined where Florida's politicians stood before, and where they stand now on oil drilling.

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