JACKSONVILLE, Fla --The spill is drawing new criticism from people here on the east coast about off shore drilling.
Rigs while you're staring out into the ocean could become a reality under a new proposal. The debate over off shore drilling is now front and center right here on our beaches. The idea of a rig sitting in the middle of a beautiful sunset, fires them up, but what we found, is that oil companies take a big risk, just to look here.
The waves roll in on Jacksonville Beach. It's quiet. The sun glistens on the clear water, but this view could change.
Jacksonville could see oil rigs off the beach shore, if the president's proposal goes through.
"We're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect america's natural resources," said President Obama on March 31st.
The images of oil on animals, covering beaches and floating in water have some people second guessing off shore drilling. Under the presidents plan, rigs could be as close as 3 miles from the shore. State Senator Bill Nelson wants the idea nixed.
"We're not going to let them get those rigs close to our shore," Sen. Nelson has said.
Local researchers say the likelihood of even finding oil off Jacksonville's shores, is slim.
The government actually makes money, even if oil companies never drill. That's because the oil companies pay millions to lease an area for exploration. If oil is found, the government can then collect taxes on it.
Right now the president's proposal for off shore drilling is on hold because of the oil spill. He has also ordered no new leases be issued to oil companies.
US Sen. Bill Nelson has sent a letter to Governor Crist urging him to call a special legislative session to consider a constitutional ban on oil drilling in the waters immediately off Florida's coast. The governor has said he's not opposed to doing that.
"If we had oil here, we'd already be drilling, and have done it 30 years ago when there wasn't as much opposition to it," said Quinton White.
White is the executive director of the Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University. He says from all his research, the chances of finding oil are less than 10 percent.
"The geologic conditions off Jacksonville, I don't think they are condusive to having oil," White said.
He says there are too many risks and so much damage the rigs can cause.
"Drilling mud, debri, the pollution associated with drilling plus you have production problems once you start producing oil. Every place you transport the oil, you have the potential for a leak, that's what we're concerned about."
The cost to take that chance, could run into the billions of dollars. Action News found exploration alone can cost anywhere from a half million to a million dollars a day. Finding oil isn't a short term process. That's why, researchers are also trying new methods to see if oil even exists off the coast of Jacksonville. They're using NASA satellites to look for oil that bubbles up naturally from the sea floor. One thing everyone agrees, the only way you know oil is out there is if you drill.