Conservation champions

By JIM DIPESO, REP Policy Director

AN HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: letter to the editor, Orlando Sentinel, June 4, 2002


President Bush’s action to head off oil and gas drilling near the Everglades and in Florida’s coastal waters was just like the good old days, when Republican leaders were conservation champions and fought to protect the nation’s air, land and waters from pollution threats.

Did Gov. Jeb Bush’s elder brother have political motives for his actions? Sure. Even Jeb said as much. But so what? Every political decision is tinctured with political motives. The important point is that oil production will not be permitted on 400,000 acres of Big Cypress National Preserve and two nearby national wildlife refuges.

Pristine coastal waters and spectacular Panhandle beaches are safe from the environmental risks of oil and gas drilling. President Bush acted properly and creatively to protect our natural heritage in Florida, on land and sea.

The dark lining to this silver cloud is that the administration still believes that many protected lands and waters elsewhere ought to be opened to oil drilling. Republicans for Environmental Protection believes that the next step is to convince President Bush that there are special places where oil drilling is inappropriate.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the California coast, and the Rocky Mountain Front are three such places. All of them, like Big Cypress, are worth protecting. Let’s hope that the Florida decisions will set a new pattern of stewardship.