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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More