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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid