Kerry: Opponents Of New Drilling Have ‘Very Legitimate’ Concerns

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who has taken a firm stance against any legislation that creates or gives incentives for new oil drilling programs off of the Florida coast, thinks he’ll get his way. Nelson has been in regular conversation with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the principal author of a soon-to-be-unveiled climate and energy bill, and he believes, based on those discussions, that Kerry is moving in his direction.

Today, Kerry, who has been tight-lipped in recent days about the fragile state of his flagship legislation, acknowledged to reporters this morning that he sympathizes with Nelson and other senators who oppose new drilling, calling their concerns “very legitimate.”

“He knows my position,” Nelson said of Kerry, standing outside the Senate chamber this morning. “There’s just not going to be any oil drilling off of Florida.”Pressed as to whether that means Kerry will change his legislation to meet his needs, Nelson sounded optimistic. “I think he’s moving in that direction,” Nelson said. “It’s a non-starter for me, if there is drilling off of Florida that messes with our economy and our environment and…military interest.”

According to Politico, Kerry, and his fellow sponsor Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) still think the oil spill will ultimately strengthen their hand, and help them pass their legislation–and they plan to unveil it next week, despite the loss of their lone Republican supporter, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Yesterday, Kerry emerged from the Senate chamber with his arm around Lieberman’s shoulder, and hurriedly told me he was working to win support from all sides. “We’re talking to everybody,” he said. “We’re being very deliberate.”