Nelson prefers use of ethanol, hybrids to offshore drilling

Nelson prefers use of ethanol, hybrids to offshore drilling

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who has fought oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast, said Monday that Americans must become less reliant on foreign oil.

Nelson called for more use of ethanol and hybrid cars, and for new federal requirements that automobiles get 40 miles per gallon of fuel.

“You can’t drill your way out of this problem in America,” Nelson told hundreds of members and guests of The Forum Club, a nonpartisan public affairs club in West Palm Beach.

Nelson, a Democrat from Melbourne, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez of Orlando have led the opposition to drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Proponents on Capitol Hill have argued that America’s dependence on foreign oil can be partially relieved by tapping into potential resources in the Gulf.

Nelson and Martinez contend that the there is little energy to be found in waters near Florida and that the sight of oil drilling platforms and potential beach-fouling leaks would harm the state’s tourism economy.

Predicting there will be a major oil crisis in the future, Nelson said the United States should look to Brazil as an example of a country that has proven that ethanol is a way to break dependence on foreign oil.

Brazil has the world’s largest fleet of ethanol-powered cars. Seven of every 10 new cars sold in Brazil are “flex fuel” vehicles that can run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Nelson is running for reelection against Republican U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key.

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