A few years ago, I won passage of a bill in the U.S. Senate to keep offshore drilling some 125 miles from Florida’s Panhandle and 235 miles away from most of Florida’s west coast until at least 2022.
But just recently, some members of the Florida Legislature decided they want to allow oil rigs within a three- to ten-mile range offshore, where the state and not the federal government controls the waters.
This just defies reason. Why would we want to undo the coastal protections wisely put and kept in place by Governors Graham, Chiles, and Bush?
These protections have spared our state’s economy and environment from the ravages of industrializing and degrading our coastline. Those who now propose to allow drilling and refineries know full well their plan will do nothing to reduce energy prices or our country’s reliance on oil. This simply is the agenda of big-oil interests hiding behind advocacy groups seeking to control Florida’s lawmaking.
Thankfully, Governor Crist echoed the wisdom of his predecessors by opposing combining renewable energy legislation with a bill to open Florida’s state waters to near-shore oil drilling. I joined ten other members of our Florida congressional delegation in thanking him for his stance and encouraging him to continue to oppose this bill. I look forward to continuing to work with him to protect and preserve Florida’s unique environmental resources—and the state’s economic livelihood.