Michele Bachmann maintains her stance on drilling for oil in the Everglades, upsetting Floridians and fellow Tea Party members.

1:02 AM, Aug 31, 2011   |    comments
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann wants oil drilling in Florida's Everglades. That's not sitting well with many Floridians.

Bachmann told the Associated Press: "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... we need to go where the energy is. Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can't responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn't do it."

However, geologists believe there's not much oil under the Everglades anyway. Collier County's Sunniland Field, the only significant oil field nearby, doesn't produce large quantities of oil, and a former employee tells 10News the oil is difficult to refine.

Bachmann's support of drilling in the Everglades even has members of her own party crying foul.

"Let's access, responsibly, our own resources," Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told 10News anchor Heather Van Nest Sunday.

Tuesday, a CBS reporter in Miami confronted Bachmann about her call for drilling, asking, "Why would you invade that natural resource with gas and oil drilling?" Bachmann responded, "Let's access this wonderful treasure trove of energy that God has given us in this country. Let's access it responsibly."

Is there even any oil beneath the Everglades? 10News sat down with USF Geologist Dr. Albert Hine, and he told us, "There is no known evidence that there is a significant hydrocarbon deposit beneath the Everglades."

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Dr. Hine also pointed out the risk of drilling there, "The Everglades is a unique environment. It's a prized environment. It's world famous... and any kind of drilling in the Everglades would be highly problematic as a result of the value of the Everglades."

Bachmann hasn't been deterred by any naysayers, telling 10News, "The radical environmentalists put up one road block after another to prevent accessing American energy. We also have oil in the Eastern Gulf region."

Even if someone were to start drilling for oil in the waters of the Eastern Gulf, Dr. Hine believes they would have to go 100 miles or more off the west coast of Florida to find any. "I don't think Florida is the next big hydrocarbon mega-province."

Even fellow Tea Party members of Congress have turned on Bachmann with this one.

Tuesday, Republican Congressman Allen West addressed a crowd in Palm Beach Gardens, "I have to tell you that Michele Bachmann said something that was an incredible faux pas yesterday on possibly looking for energy resources in the Everglades. And when I see her next week, I'll straighten her out about that." The crowd applauded in response.

Many of you have told us on our 10News Facebook page that you don't like it either.

Corey Lee Morris asks, "Is there absolutely no place sacred from the gluttony of the American Oil Machine?"

Carmen Farese says, "I believe as a nation we do need to end our dependence on foreign oil, but we cannot do it at the expense of our state's fragile wetlands."

Jim Dallacqua wrote, "Let her go drill for oil in her home state. Don't mess with ours!"

Florida Senator Bill Nelson chimed in today, too, saying, "To go in the middle of the Everglades and to spoil the river of grass just because somebody wants to, that's not a wise thing to do."

A poll from Friday showed Michele Bachmann in a distant 3rd among Florida voters: 8 percentage points behind Rick Perry and 15 points behind Mitt Romney. 

Follow 10News Reporter Chase Cain on Twitter @chase_cain

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