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Congressman Vern Buchanan, Castor Introduce Bill to Ban Drilling Off Florida
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, joined Reps. Kathy Castor, Francis Rooney, and Charlie Crist today in reintroducing the bipartisan Florida Coastal Protection Act, which would make permanent the current moratorium on oil drilling slated to expire in 2022.
The moratorium currently in place protects waters up to 235 miles off the west coast of Florida from oil drilling and will expire in June 2022 unless made permanent by the bipartisan bill. Florida has experienced the devastating impacts of offshore oil drilling following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, and several other spills currently happening throughout the middle and western Gulf, like the Taylor spill.
“Allowing drilling off of Florida’s pristine coasts would be a colossal mistake,” Buchanan said. “Red tide has already plagued the Sunshine State – it would be imprudent to invite the potential for another catastrophic oil spill that would devastate Florida’s economy and environment. As co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, I will continue working with colleagues in both parties to protect the state’s beautiful coasts and waters.”
State waters, where drilling is currently banned, begin at the state’s shores and extend to three miles into the Atlantic Ocean and nine miles into the Gulf. The Florida Coastal Protection Act extends the recently approved state moratorium to federal waters.
Last October, Buchanan co-sponsored the Safe COAST Act to overturn an Interior Department rule that would substantially weaken oil rig protections enacted after the Gulf Coast oil spill. In April, Buchanan denounced a plan to weaken offshore oil safety regulations. A longtime opponent of drilling in the Gulf, Buchanan last March joined a bipartisan group in Congress urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to forgo any plan to drill off Florida’s coast.
“Here in Florida, we are keenly aware of the devastating impacts of oil and gas drilling off our shores,” Castor said. “Our state’s vital natural resources – and our state’s economy – cannot risk the devastation brought by blowouts, nor can it afford the high costs of carbon pollution. We have an obligation to act now to protect our beautiful Florida coastline, our economy and our future – and I am proud to have my colleagues from Florida, including U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (FL19), join me.”
Rooney said, “The people of Florida are clearly opposed to offshore drilling. The November 2018 ballot contained a ban on offshore drilling, Amendment 9, which won with over 68% in favor. This widespread support is a clear indication that voters are overwhelmingly in support of Florida coastal protection. As Floridians, we are well aware that our livelihood depends on a pristine environment.”
Crist said, “Florida voters spoke clearly in November: no drilling off our coasts. Our job is to be their voice in Washington, sending that same message loud and clear with this bill to block harmful drilling and exploration off of Florida. We cannot afford another disaster devastating our waters, health, and economy.”