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Crist open to anti-drilling constitutional amendment pushed by Dems

by George Bennett | May 6th, 2010

PALM BEACH — Gov. Charlie Crist says he’s open to a proposal by Democrats to convene a special legislative session to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to prohibit drilling off Florida’s coast.

“Obviously, in light of what’s happened recently in the Gulf of Mexico, those kinds of ideas we’re going to have to field,” Crist said before visiting Palm Beach Public Elementary School for an assembly to mark “Teacher Appreciation Week.”

“This much is clear. Let me be very clear about this, as far as oil drilling is concerned: Not now, no way,” Crist said. “Whether it’s in the form of a constitutional amendment or a special session remains to be seen.”

After urging about 200 students at the assembly to honor their teachers, Crist spoke more about drilling as he left the building and headed to Palm Beach International Airport. He’s scheduled to fly over the spill this afternoon with Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano.

Offshore drilling, said Crist, “has to be far enough, clean enough and safe enough. As it relates to what we’ve just seen in the Gulf of Mexico the past couple weeks, clearly it wasn’t far enough. It obviously wasn’t safe enough. And sure as heck isn’t clean enough. And so it’s just not good enough, period.”

Asked if his “not now, no way” statement applied to existing rigs or new drilling, Crist said, “Certainly as it relates to any new drilling, there’s no good reason to be doing that right now in the wake of what we’ve just seen.”

He added: “I’m an optimistic guy. But I’m also a realist. I’ve flown over this thing twice now and I’m on my way to go and see it again today with the Secretary of Homeland Security. Listen, I hope the wind keeps it away. I hope it dissipates. I hope they’re able to cap it. I hope and pray for all of that. But I think we have to be prepared for the worst and pray for the best.”

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