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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Knocking on Doors for a Clean Gulf Coast

TAMPA, FL - A year after the BP oil-spill disaster, the Gulf Restoration Network is working to engage community members in thousands of one-on-one conversations. The group believes it's one way to force the oil industry and the federal government to fix the damage done to the coast, and to invite individuals to do their parts to protecting the gulf's natural resources.

Gulf Restoration Network's Florida director, Darden Rice, says the pro-oil lobby has its own creative game plan to protect its offshore drilling interest.

"The American Petroleum Institute even tried to pull off these astro-turf fake grassroots campaigns, and this was to give the perception that there was ordinary citizen support for a pro-drilling, anti-climate-change agenda."

Florida politicians and leaders have yet to take adequate action to ensure that the gulf is protected and restored, Rice claims. The oil industry responds that it has pumped millions of dollars into cleaning up the gulf's waters and coastlines.

GRN wants assurances that the state will give local communities a say in future oil and gas-drilling decisions that impact their lives and livelihoods, Rice says, adding that the group sees the need to counter demonstrations organized by pro-oil interests.

"The rally that was planned for Tampa, the Energy Citizen Rally, was organized by David Mica, who is the president of the Florida Petroleum Council and, of course, the brother of Congressman John Mica, one of the oil industry's strongest supporters in Florida."

Rice says many Florida households can expect GRN outreach associates to canvas their neighborhoods this summer, asking for support in the battle for a healthy gulf.

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