House Passes Wasserman Schultz Florida Coastal Drilling Ban Amendment

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Washington, June 21, 2019 | comments
"This will help safeguard Florida’s natural treasures, and ensures our marine populations and tourist economies don’t live under an imminent threat of an oily crude washing up on our shores.”
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The House of Representatives passed an amendment on Thursday authored by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) that would ban drilling around Florida’s sensitive and vital coastlines.

The effort was the culmination of bipartisan, cooperative work by Florida’s Congressional delegation, earning it the support of 26 out of 27 delegation members and passing the U.S. House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 252-178. The amendment was added to a package of appropriations bills (H.R. 3055) that includes the Interior appropriations bill. The bill also now includes provisions to protect the Pacific and Atlantic coasts from drilling activities after amendments to protect the West Coast and the rest of the Atlantic Coast were adopted on the House floor. The bill includes language to slow down the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s preleasing process to ensure that agency is properly following the correct legal process when developing five-year offshore plans.

“Florida’s ecological diversity and economy must never be put at risk by dirty, dangerous drilling activities,” Wasserman Schultz said. “This amendment, which passed with real, broad-based bipartisan support, will help safeguard Florida’s natural treasures, and ensures our marine populations and tourist economies don’t live under an imminent threat of an oily crude washing up on our beautiful shores.”

The amendment prohibits any funds from being expended by the Department of the Interior to conduct oil and gas pre-leasing, leasing, and related activities in outer continental shelf planning areas around Florida. 

In addition to the amendment’s support by nearly the entire Florida Congressional delegation, it drew bipartisan support nationally and from a broad range of environmental advocates including Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and National Parks Conservation Association.

“I am proud of my colleagues in the Florida delegation for standing strong against the threat of offshore drilling, and I recognize the years of hard work that so many of them have dedicated to protecting Florida’s coasts,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Now is not the time to expand more areas to fossil fuel extraction. We must be doing everything possible to transition to a clean energy economy, and protecting our nation’s beautiful, pristine coastline.”

“I was Governor of Florida when Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010,” Representative Charlie Crist (FL-13) said in support of the amendment on the House floor. “I saw the tar balls wash up on Florida beaches. I saw the harm done to Florida’s economy and our way of life. I have seen firsthand the consequences of offshore drilling, and I hope to never see it again.”

“Offshore drilling anywhere near Florida represents an existential threat to our tourist and recreation economy that we cannot risk taking,” Representative Francis Rooney (FL-19) said in support of the amendment. “I want to thank Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz for her leadership and to urge adoption of this amendment and protect Florida. Twenty-one million people are being protected by Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.”

“I want to thank my colleague from South Florida for, as we mentioned earlier, having the courage to stand up for our state and protect us from the scourge of drilling,” said Representative John Rutherford (FL-04) in support of the amendment. “This important amendment will protect our coast, our economy, and our national defense.”

The amendment was supported by nearly the entire Florida delegation: Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Neal Dunn (FL-02), John Rutherford (FL-04), Al Lawson (FL-05), Michael Waltz (FL-06), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Bill Posey (FL-08), Darren Soto (FL-09), Val Demings (FL-10), Dan Webster (FL-11), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ross Spano (FL-15), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Greg Steube (FL-17), Brian Mast (FL-18), Francis Rooney (FL-19), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), and Donna Shalala (FL-27).

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