As the U.S. seeks alternative sources to Russian oil, congressional Republicans on Tuesday pushed legislation aimed at boosting domestic drilling. Every Republican in the House on Tuesday voted for the American Energy Independence from Russia Act — except one.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, cast the sole GOP vote against the bill, which would have reauthorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and ratcheted up allowable natural gas production.
While Gaetz said he supports many of those steps, he could not vote for legislation that also could open the Gulf of Mexico to more drilling.
“While we should take steps to expand domestic production of energy by reauthorizing the Keystone XL Pipeline and allowing land-based drilling and fracking, this legislation contains a poison pill — and actually helps Russia,” he said.
“It would abolish the moratorium on new oil and gas drilling leases off Florida’s coast. It would harm Northwest Florida’s military mission. It would impair the research, development, testing and evaluation work that allows our military to maintain a qualitative edge over Russia, China, and the world. It would be foolish to respond to Russia’s aggression by rendering America less capable to defeat Russia or anyone else.”
The bill failed in a 221-202 vote.
Gaetz represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District, home to military installations including Eglin Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Pensacola. The use of portions of the Gulf for military exercises have long prompted concerns about drilling for members of Congress on the Gulf Coast.
Florida’s congressional delegation has been unified for years in opposing drilling off Florida’s coast. They pushed in a bipartisan way for a 10-year ban on oil drilling approved by then-President Donald Trump in September. Most Republicans from Florida in 2019 also broke rank with party leadership in supporting House legislation to ban drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and most co-sponsored legislation this Congress to do the same.
But a roll call vote shows 15 Florida Republicans voted for the bill to expand U.S. oil production.
Jaryn Emhof, chief of staff to Rep. Daniel Webster, a Clermont Republican, said because of the Trump-era moratorium still in place, the bill heard Tuesday would not open drilling near Florida.
“The bill does not impact eastern Gulf of Mexico and the moratorium that currently protects those waters from any drilling,” Emhof said. “Any additional Gulf drilling that might occur under this bill is limited to western and central areas where drilling is already occurring.”
An increasing number of Republicans in Florida have called for restarting the Keystone XL pipeline. When President Joe Biden shut down construction, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody challenged the President’s executive order.
Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, spoke out at the time regarding Keystone as well. He represents Florida’s 2nd Congressional District, neighboring Gaetz’s jurisdiction.
“Shutting down the Keystone XL project was a huge mistake,” he said. “While the pipeline project is over a thousand miles away, the impact is now in our backyards as Floridians in the 2nd District have lost their jobs because of the Biden administration’s decision.”
Gaetz said if the legislation in front of Congress this week focused just on Keystone and other on-land drilling, he may have supported it.
“As I stated recently at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference, we must expand America’s access to natural resources,” he said. “But launching experimental missiles over oil rigs is as dumb as dumb gets.”
March 2, 2022 at 10:12 am
Given his concerns and his history and that of his Florida congressional colleagues in opposing off shore drilling, his vote seems reasonable.
March 2, 2022 at 2:45 pm
When is he going to jail?
March 3, 2022 at 10:45 am
Good article, thanks
March 4, 2022 at 10:35 am
Well you would think all congress members would want to do any and everything possible when it comes to stop buying Russian oil. This is what’s wrong with most members they worry more about themselves rather than the citizens of the United States.
March 4, 2022 at 11:09 am
He’s not obligated to ‘worry’ about all Americans. He’s obligated to ‘worry’ about his constituents of western FL first.
He is a representative, after all.
His reason for dissent seems justified, given historical context.
Keystone should have never been terminated.
March 5, 2022 at 10:19 am
Matt, As a Florida Resident I am ashamed of you!!! To cast in with the Friggin STUPID DEMOCRAPS is unconscionable!!! SHAME ON YOU. If the intelligent Floridians have anything to say we’ll run your backside out QUICK!!! Idiots like you are causing the population huge financial crisis with stupid decisions. DO YOU REALLY THINK WE CAN GET BY WITH WINDMILLS AND SOLAR PANELS??? DID YOU PASS GRADE SCHOOL SCIENCE????
March 5, 2022 at 10:35 am
I don’t think he’s expecting us to rely on more expensive and inefficient forms of energy like windmills. He said that he would have considered voting otherwise if the keystone pipeline was addressed.
At the end of the day, isn’t Congress just virtue signaling? Whatever action they take, it will be too late. Inflation is getting ridiculous and this Ukraine/Russia issue is not helping at all. Hold out til Nov (Jan 23) and hopefully the communists, greens and other race baiters get voted out.
March 5, 2022 at 6:23 pm
That was an easy cynical vote that had no effect on the outcome.
March 8, 2022 at 8:59 am
The United States needs to start up massive oil drilling and production of fuel right here in our own country and right now. That would eliminate our need for oil from other countries. Start bigger and better drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. NEWS FLASH —— The United States DOES NOT own the Gulf Of Mexico !!!! Out past the legal distance limit, the gulf is open water just like the Atlantic and the Pacific. Where do we get the right to regulate drilling in open waters?? Let’s get the most production we can right here at home and tell the foreign producers to shove it !!!!!!
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