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Charlie Crist on ‘Face the Nation’: BP spill should be a wake-up call

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From CBS News: As President Barack Obama prepares to head back to the Gulf states on Monday to get a personal update on what’s being done concerning the oil spill, Florida Governor Charlie Crist says state crews are doing everything they can to be ready for the worst.

Speaking to Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” from the shore of Seagrove on Sunday morning, Governor Charlie Crist said while the impact from the BP spill has been limited up to this point, he’s concerned about the future.

“I’m very concerned. Whenever you’re facing a situation like this, this is the largest single environmental catastrophe that’s faced our country,” said Crist. “That’s why we’ve been working as hard as we can these past 55 days to do everything humanly possible to protect (our) beautiful beaches and the great people who live here and their businesses.”

Crist says he’s appreciative that President Obama will be back on the Gulf coast for the fourth time on Monday.

“Whenever the President of the United States comes into an affected area, questions get answered more quickly, assets get deployed more rapidly and there is a greater focus and attention where it needs to be,” said Crist. “Right now that is the Gulf states. I think it is important that he continues to come down, that kind of focus only helps all of us.”

The governor said as the spill continues to creep eastward, they’ve deployed more than thousands of yards of boom but will need more once they’ve determined where it will be most effective.

“We have a lot of boom but we’re going to need a lot more and skimmers as well. I just talked to (Coast Guard) Admiral Thad Allen yesterday evening requesting more skimmers for off the coast of Florida. We have some (oil) that is starting to encroach about three to four miles off Pensacola Beach, some of that thicker sludge if you will, and we’re very concerned about that. More skimmers will help us.”

Crist said the state already deployed 331,000 feet of boom and has another 180,000 feet of boom ready to go when it is needed.

In addition to discussing readiness, Crist also said this spill should be a wake-up call for America and its dependence on oil.

“We have to go to alternative energies like wind, solar, nuclear, other things that are more clean that don’t threaten our way of life and frankly here in Florida our economy,” said Crist. “In Florida, the environment and our economy are inextricably linked in this huge industry we call tourism.”

When asked about Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s call to end the current moratorium on offshore drilling because it was putting people out of work, Crist said he strongly disagreed with that position.

“We need this moratorium. If this spew in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t tell us that we need to be more cautious and more careful about doing this in the future then I don’t know what else would. We don’t have these rigs off the Florida coast, we are suffering from the one off the Louisiana coast, and it troubles me greatly that’s occurring. That’s why I think this is the greatest wake-up call ever that we need to go to alternative fuel. We need to have cleaner fuel for our people. That will create greater independence and stop sending so much money to the Middle East.”

Gov. Crist also applauded the Obama administration’s demand that BP set up and pay into a special escrow fund, which would be administered by a third party, which would pay for damage claims.

“I think setting aside as much funds as possible in order to make sure that we can make our people as whole as possible is extremely important right now,” said Crist. “I’m not a scientist, my fellow governors aren’t, neither is the President so we don’t have the knowledge to plug the hole. But what we can do is focus on is making the people whole and their businesses throughout the Gulf states as much as we can. That really is mission one in addition to protecting our beaches with boom and skimmers.”


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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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