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Oil Creeping to Florida Shore

Posted on May 4, 2010

Lee County in Southwest Florida is on the lookout for oil from an oil spill in the Gulf that is approaching our coast. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill which occurred last week is currently about 300 miles to the north north-west of Lee County and Gov. Charlie Crist declared a State of Emergency Friday for the Panhandle. Counties affected are Escambia, Santa Rose, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf. According to a news-press.com article, with 200 gallons gushing in to the Gulf every day, the current trajectory could impact Southwest Florida beaches. Lee Co. Emergency Management says it wants to be proactive and is planning meeting with federal, state and local agencies to coordinate a response and clean-up. The local economy, environment, property and health of residents potentially could all be impacted.

The spill is casting doubt that any Floridians will be behind off-shore drilling in Florida. Tourism revenue generates about $57 billion for the state and an oil spill in the Gulf permanently impacts wetlands and wildlife. President Obama has said he wants a moratorium on off-shore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf and that any new leases to drill must include safeguards to prevent a similar spill. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the president that further exploration be halted into an investigation uncovers why the rig exploded, killing 11. Nelson wants to stop the Interior Department from exploratory operations in the Gulf.

Weather conditions and ocean currents dictate that the Loop Current, which is water flowing north into the Gulf that loops southeast through the Florida Keys and back up the east coast, is about 100 miles west of Southwest Florida. Capping the oil source still has not been accomplished and it is spewing about 210,000 gallons of oil a day. Since the well head is about 5,000 feet below the surface it could take three month to establish a relief drill that would help plug the leak. Currently about 600 square miles of Gulf waters are covered.