(J. Pat Carter/AP)If Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann wants to drill for oil in the Florida Everglades, as she suggested at a recent presidential campaign stop, environmental groups won't be the only ones standing in her way. She'll have to go through members of her own party first.
Both of the Florida Republicans running to defeat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 adamantly oppose energy exploration in the national park. So does Florida Rep. Allen West, a member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, which Bachmann founded.
"There is no current plan to drill in the Everglades and nor should there be," former Florida Rep. Adam Hasner told The Ticket when asked about Bachmann's proposal. Hasner is currently running against former Sen. George LeMieux for the Republican nomination to unseat Nelson. LeMieux also opposes drilling in the park, his campaign spokesman said. Both Hasner and LeMieux support energy exploration off-shore.
Bachmann made the comments about drilling in the Florida national park during a rally in Sarasota last weekend, but added that it must be done "responsibly."
"The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that's in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is," Bachmann said. "Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades, then we shouldn't do it."
At a town hall meeting in Palm Beach Gardens this week, West said that Bachmann had made "an incredible faux pas," when she voiced support for energy exploration in the park.
"When I see her next week, I'll straighten her out about that," West said, according to a report in the Palm Beach Post.
Everglades National Park is the largest sub-tropical wilderness area in the country, covering more than 1.5 million acres in South Florida. A company that had formerly owned land in the Big Cypress National Preserve section of the park before it became a national park now conducts limited drilling there.