2004 flashback: Dems John Kerry, Bob Graham OK with drilling in ‘deep water’ of gulfby George Bennett | July 12th, 2010
But in 2004, Graham and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry took pains to distinguish between politically unpopular drilling off Florida and presumably safer drilling farther away in “the deep water” in the Gulf of Mexico.When the two appeared together in Tampa in April 2004, Kerry was asked about drilling.
The Massachusetts Senator gave a long answer typical of what his supporters celebrated as “nuance” and his critics blasted as all-things-to-all-people waffling.
Kerry said he favored drilling “in the right places,” and noted that “The largest unexplored oil field in the world is actually the deep water oil out in the Gulf. Now, there is a capacity to protect what we have today, the protections for the coast of Florida, and still be able to drill in those locations where they’re already permitting, already had the Environmental Impact Study, they already have the leases, and the only reason the drilling isn’t taking place is because it doesn’t pay – it’s not cost effective at this moment in time on the price.”
Republicans — seizing on a report in the University of Florida’s student newspaper that didn’t distinguish between drilling in “the deep water” and drilling closer to Florida’s coast — accused Kerry of favoring close-in drilling. (Before the “Drill, Baby, Drill” summer of 2008, Florida Republicans were nearly unanimous in opposing drilling near Florida’s coast.)
Graham, angling at the time to be Kerry’s running mate, came to the candidate’s defense.
“Senator Kerry clearly distinguished between drilling in the deep water out in the gulf and the sensitive coastline of Florida,” Graham said at the time.
Here’s the complete 2004 story by distinguished Post alum Brian Crowley:
KERRY BACKS DRILLING OFF FLA., GOVERNOR SAYS
Presidential candidate John Kerry nearly slipped on oil Wednesday when Gov. Jeb Bush took the words of a student reporter and used them to accuse the Massachusetts senator of favoring oil drilling off Florida’s coast.
If it had been true it could have been as devastating to Kerry’s chances of winning Florida as threatening to end Social Security. But Kerry’s campaign insisted that the Independent Florida Alligator made an “honest mistake” and that Kerry is a staunch opponent of drilling off Florida’s shores.
But that didn’t stop Bush, who waved a copy of the student-run newspaper in front of reporters in Tallahassee Wednesday and said he couldn’t believe that no one else had reported it.
“What is going on with John Kerry?” Bush asked. “There is probably 10 percent of the people of this state that would support a candidate for higher office that believes what John Kerry believes – I can’t believe this, and I’m not sure why you guys didn’t cover it yesterday. Your papers must have been in the same place the Florida Alligator was.”
President Bush’s campaign sent out a copy of his brother’s remarks.
U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, a Democrat who is a longtime a champion of the environment, was by Kerry’s side when Kerry talked about drilling Tuesday.
“Senator Kerry clearly distinguished between drilling in the deep water out in the gulf and the sensitive coastline of Florida,” said Graham, who hopes to be Kerry’s running mate. “He said he supports ‘what we have today, the protections for the coast of Florida.’ I have heard him answer this question before, and I know what his position is – he supports the moratoria that we have put in place against drilling off the coast of our state.”
The student paper, which reports on the University of Florida, had quoted Kerry correctly when he said during a campaign event in Tampa Tuesday that he favored oil drilling in the gulf. But three reporters for major Florida newspapers who covered the event said Kerry was talking about existing drilling off other states.
Alligator editor Cameron Ackroyd said the newspaper was sticking by the story of its reporter, Dwayne Robinson, but “we may run a clarification.”
A transcript of Kerry’s remarks was supplied by his campaign. He was answering a question about whether he supported drilling in Alaska:
“Do I support oil drilling? The answer is yes. I support oil drilling in the right places. And we’re going to be drilling oil, ladies and gentlemen, and we’re going to be drilling natural gas, for the next 30, 40, 50 years. I’ve said that as a matter of clarity and certainty in our policy. I’m not against it – we’re going to be doing it. And it makes sense to do it in certain places. Ninety-five percent of the Alaska oil shelf is open for drilling. The Clinton Administration actually put out the largest lease in history for drilling in the Arctic North Slope. But that is different than drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And there’s a distinction.
“We also have an enormous amount of oil. The largest unexplored oil field in the world is actually the deep water oil out in the Gulf. Now, there is a capacity to protect what we have today, the protections for the coast of Florida, and still be able to drill in those locations where they’re already permitting, already had the Environmental Impact Study, they already have the leases, and the only reason the drilling isn’t taking place is because it doesn’t pay – it’s not cost effective at this moment in time on the price. Though that may be changing, with the prices going up.”