(This article was originally published on April 26, 2009 at www.tallahassee.com)

I am guessing that Florida Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has never eyeballed a Gulf of Mexico oil or natural gas rig at water level, which is why she has blithely come out in favor of the last-minute House bill to allow offshore rigs as close as three miles off Florida’s shores.

The proposal was pushed through committee this week by 16 Republican legislators, led by Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Orlando, and by one Democrat, Rep. Yolly Roberson of Fort Lauderdale.

Had Sen. Detert been within fishing-rod casting distance of one of the halogen-lit, 100-foot towers erected by Exxon, Shell or Chevron off the coast of neighboring Alabama, as I often have, she might be a little more worried about the safety, health and quality of life of her constituents.

For example, if she were to navigate toward any one of the fixed or floating oil platforms, she couldn’t help but notice the 30-inch letters printed in graphic yellow and red: Danger: Poison — Hydrogen Sulfide Gas.