News / USA

US Oil Spill Stokes Fear in Florida

Opposition to offshore drilling grows even though oil slick is still far from Florida

The gulf oil spill is still hundreds of kilometers from Florida, but local businesses worry about the impact it could have on their livelihoods
The gulf oil spill is still hundreds of kilometers from Florida, but local businesses worry about the impact it could have on their livelihoods

Multimedia

Florida residents fear the oil residue and tar balls that are washing up on beaches of the northern U.S. gulf could soon reach their shores.

The spill from the offshore oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is still hundreds of kilometers from Florida, but local businesses worry about the impact it could have on their livelihoods.

"We're going to have to deal with the pollution that gets here," says Keith Kropf, who lives in Key Largo, south of Miami. "I feel it is going to be here, and it may not be this week or next. But within months."

Kropf and others turned out for a meeting this week with local officials and a representative from BP America, which owns the leaking well.

The spill is still more than 600 kilometers away. Emergency officials say it is too early to  deploy clean-up crews. But the impact, especially on hotels and tourism, is already being felt.

"We're getting a tremendous amount of questions," says Andy Newman with the Florida Keys Tourism Council. "We know that people are concerned. They are going to wait to the last moment to make that reservation, to assure themselves they are not being impacted."

Tourism isn't the only industry that's feeling the pinch. The spill is also damaging the drive to open up Florida's coastline to new oil drilling. Critics of offshore drilling have held protests against BP in several U.S. cities.  

In Florida, officials had been debating a proposal to open new waters to offshore oil drilling. Governor Charlie Crist was a supporter, but now he's changed his mind.

Florida's beaches and wildlife are a draw for tourists.
Florida's beaches and wildlife are a draw for tourists.

"When you see the devastation and the enormity of the size of that thing, it's just unbelievable," says Crist. "And it just wouldn't be the right thing to do, not now, no way."

Crist wants to put the issue to Florida voters later this year. A poll released after the spill shows that 35 percent of Floridians support offshore drilling - down from 61 percent two years ago.

The spill may have solidified the opposition. .

"People come to Florida because of our environment, our ecology," says Skye Stanley, who operates a sport fishing business in Key Largo. "Now that we can see what kind of tragedy can happen because of those oil rigs.  Definitely, I think it would be a great time to take a vote."

Beaches, fishing grounds and other wildlife habitats draw millions of tourists each year. Florida residents say any threat to those resources would hurt business as well as the ecosystem.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid