U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Kathy Castor announced Monday they are reintroducing a bill that would permanently ban drilling off Florida coastlines.
The Florida Coastal Protection Act would make permanent the moratorium on oil drilling off the state’s coastline.
The current moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico expires in 2022. It also protects waters up to 235 miles off the west coast of Florida from oil drilling.
“The fatal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and massive spill into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was one of the worst environmental disasters in history,” Buchanan said in a news release. “We can’t risk another spill that would threaten our economy, our environment and our way of life.”
In a separate news release about the proposed legislation, Castor also mentioned the effects oil spills have had.
“We have seen the devastating impacts of oil and gas drilling off of our shores, and are coming together, Democrats and Republicans, to once again introduce legislation to protect our coast — permanently,” Castor said.
Co-sponsors include, Gus Bilirakis, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Byron Donalds, Lois Frankel, Scott Franklin, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Al Lawson, Brian Mast, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson, according to Castor’s office.
Castor has introduced similar legislation in the past. The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019 passed the House by a vote of 248-180 in September 2019. The bill did not receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Red tide has plagued Florida’s coast in recent years, and Buchanan said the state does not need the added threat of an oil spill.
“This naturally occurring harmful algal bloom has had a very damaging impact,” Buchanan said. “It would be a huge mistake to allow drilling and be forced to confront another catastrophic spill.”
In January, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott reintroduced similar legislation that would extend the moratorium on oil and gas drilling on the Eastern Gulf of Mexico from 2022 to 2032.
Rubio and Scott’s proposed legislation has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
In September 2020, former President Donald Trump used a presidential memorandum to announce a ban on oil drilling off the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. The memo told the interior secretary to ban drilling in those waters from July 1, 2022 until June 20, 2032.
Democratic challenger and eventual President Joe Biden accused Trump of flip-flopping ahead of the November 2020 election. The Trump administration acted to expand offshore drilling in January 2018.
Presidential memorandums are similar to executive orders, but are not required to be published in the Federal Register.