Key West trivia question: Anybody remember the day (hint--Captain Tony was Mayor) when we looked out, and there was a sea-going oil drilling rig out by Sand Key light? It turned out that it was just parked there, and was on its way to somewhere else. But it caused a bit of a stir.
Now that President Bush and (quite possibly) his successor, Sen. McCain have come out in favor of ending the ban on offshore oil drilling, some of us are wondering how that idea will play out here in the Keys.
Will the battle lines be drawn between the tree-hugging, reef-relief Greenies and the Humvee driving, pave-it-over Piggies? Or will most of us fall somewhere in the middle?
I can remember when beachfront hotels on Key Colony Beach, for example, had to have kerosene-soaked towels available so that people could clean the oil off their feet, and not track it on to the pool deck or into the rooms. And that wasn't just here--it was at every beach in Florida.
I can remember a three inch layer of tar just below the sand at Long Key State Park. Now, granted, a lot of that was from freighters who flushed their tanks right offshore. That doesn't happen as much anymore, because of heavy fines and the ability to "fingerprint" oil spills.
But in California, where most of the spills came from drilling activities, I can remember the rocks along the Santa Barbara coast still being covered with blotches of black tar and the skeletons of dead birds in the late Seventies.
So, since I have seen what a terrible mess oil makes when it hits our beaches (and our tourist economy), I will have to be on the side of the Greenies on this one. On the other hand, I just had to shell out FIFTY BUCKS for three-quarters of a tank of gas for my 4-cylinder vehicle!
So we can be sure that the oil companies will be telling us that with new technology the drilling process can be clean and environmentally friendly. And we won't know for certain until we let them try it.
There IS one saving grace for us here in the Keys: there's a good possibility that there isn't any recoverable oil here. People have drilled here before. Right off of Duck Key are the remnants of a drilling rig from long ago. Florida's geology is basically flat-lying limestone, not the "folded" rock that favors accumulation of organic deposits like petroleum and natural gas in its faults and folds. On the down side, any spill from the west coast of Florida would eventually reach us.
So now we have a president and a presidential candidate telling us we have to throw out environmental protections that were originally enacted for valid reasons. And by so doing they will be polarizing public opinion into Greenies and Piggies, or if you prefer, Realists and Dreamers.
The true fact is that if we had listened to Dick Nixon and/or Jimmy Carter way back when, we wouldn't have the current problems. But people thought that cheap "fossil fuels" would go on forever, and as we know, Democracy is absolutely the worst form of government. Except, of course, for all the others.