Floridians Still Fighting Against Drilling Off Their Coast

Back on November 6, 2018, Floridians took their opposition to the polls and voted, overwhelmingly, to amend their state constitution and make permanent a ban on offshore drilling in state waters. However, even with this new ban, many Floridians—including mayor Alan Johnson of St. Pete Beach—doubt that Florida’s coast will truly be protected from offshore drilling.

While Amendment 9 protects the immediate 3 miles off Florida’s coast, it does nothing to protect more than 200 miles of federal waters surrounding Florida. Of particular concern is the military mission line (MML), established in 2006 to ensure that military testing areas in Florida’s Gulf coast are protected from offshore drilling. If the 116th Congress does not extend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which established the MML, it will expire in 2022. The expiration of GOMESA would put areas critical to United States military preparedness at risk of oil drilling and spills associated with oil activities.

In early January, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, a Republican from Southwest Florida and outspoken opponent of offshore drilling in Florida waters, was quick to introduce a bill to “permanently ban oil and gas leasing, preleasing, and related activities in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.” This bill would ensure that the moratorium remain in place beyond 2022.  U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa, cosponsored Rooney’s bill. This type of bi-partisan opposition to offshore drilling is common throughout Florida.

Not only did nearly 70 percent of Floridians—Republicans and Democrats—vote for Amendment 9, but 79 Florida municipalities have also passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling. Floridians know that offshore drilling threatens their livelihoods and our nation’s military readiness, and they have repeatedly shown their opposition to offshore drilling activities. The FGCBC will continue to serve as the unified business voice against offshore drilling, and we will fight to protect the moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

To read more about the threat that offshore drilling poses to Florida, visit: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-01-15/offshore-oil-drilling-in-florida-still-possible-despite-constitutional-ban

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Permanently Protect FL’s Coast from Drilling

On January 8, 2019, the Florida Coastal Protection Act of 2019 was re-introduced by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) and co-sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16). This important legislation would make permanent the moratorium on oil drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida planning areas. The moratorium currently in place will expire in June 2022 unless made permanent by Rep. Castor’s bill.

With their support for this latest bill, these members of Florida’s congressional delegation have reaffirmed their commitment to protecting Florida’s waters from expanded offshore drilling. The people of Florida made their opposition to offshore drilling clear in November 2018 when Amendment 9—a ban on offshore drilling in state waters— was overwhelmingly approved by Floridians. If passed, the Florida Coastal Protection Act of 2019 would build upon Amendment 9, extending the drilling protections to not just state waters, but federal waters off the coast of Florida as well.

The FGCBC applauds this bipartisan effort to protect our coasts and calls on the entire Florida Congressional Delegation to support efforts like the Florida Coastal Protection Act.