Florida debating impact if offshore drilling begins

If the offshore-drilling ban covering much of the nation's coast is lifted, the next oil and gas rush would start off of Florida's coast and spark an environmental battle of national scope.

But it's far less certain that more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would bring lower gasoline prices _ at least anytime soon.

Likewise, there seems little chance of rigs rising off Southwest Florida or the Atlantic coast in the near future, if at all. It's true that more sophisticated surveys could discover deposits that the last, decades-old searches missed. But the waters off Florida's Panhandle rank at the top of the energy industry's wish list.

Read the full story at