BP to Pay Record Fine for Gulf Spill; Florida Is Safe From Drilling (for Now)

It was announced Thursday that BP is to fork over $4.5 billion in a settlement with the U.S. government because of its devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This also includes the biggest criminal penalty in American history, with almost $1.3 billion in criminal fines, including manslaughter charges over the 11 deaths in the explosion of the oil rig that triggered the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

The BP spill triggered fears here in Florida over offshore drilling in recent years, and this latest ruling is just another reminder that more drilling is always possible in our own backyard.

Particularly, the fear has been over Cuba's insistence on drilling for oil with a Chinese-built offshore drilling rig. Cuba claimed the underwater areas it was looking at held up to 20 billion barrels of oil.

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But thankfully, it turns out the wells were empty, and the island nation decided to abandon their plans to drill.

But that isn't the only bullet Florida dodged on this issue.

In February, House Republicans voted to end the ban on drilling off of Florida's west coast -- extending the moratorium on drilling until 2025.

But since Barack Obama won the election, he'll be vetoing that particular decision. Had Romney won, it would have been an entirely different story, as the Mittbot had plans to grant states more regulatory power over drilling on federal lands.

Who knows what Rick Scott would've done with that? While he's repeated that he's against oil drilling, he's also been kinda for it, and then not again. So who the hell knows?

Point is, in the wake of the BP disaster, oil drilling became a serious topic of discussion. And with Republicans' insistence on drilling off of Florida, in particular, we could have been smack dab in the middle of another potential environmental disaster.

The BP settlement, Cuba coming up empty, and an Obama victory ensure that -- at least for the moment -- the desire to drill for oil off our shores is no longer an option.

There will be no drinking of any milk shakes here!

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