WASHINGTON — A proposal to ban offshore oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coast of Florida is headed to the Republican-controlled Senate.
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The action comes after the House made a bold statement this week when they passed three bills to block offshore drilling in almost all of the waters surrounding the U.S.
“I hope it sends a message that bipartisan work can be done on issues that are really important to a state,” said Rep. Francis Rooney (R) Florida 19th District, one of the most pro-environmental Republicans that serve in the U.S. House.
With the current ban on drilling off of Florida’s Gulf Coast set to expire in 2022, all eyes are on the state’s two U.S. Senators.
“Sen. Scott and Sen. Rubio are going to have to stand up for our State,” said Rep. Kathy Castor (D) Florida 14th District during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Rick Scott (R-Florida) are offering up a bill that would ban offshore drilling through 2027, instead of making it permanent.
“I’m going to continue to work with the administration and work with Congress to make sure we don’t have offshore drilling,” Scott said in an interview with Spectrum News.
The Trump Administration has already signaled they are uncomfortable with a permanent ban, which is one of the reasons why Scott said they are pushing only a five-year moratorium.
“We want to make sure we are getting something that is going to get passed and signed,” Scott explained.
Rooney said their proposal is a non-starter, but says he’s open to negotiation.
“Five years isn’t very long. We’ll be right back in this mess in three years. They’ll be wanting to re-lease on seismic. I think that’s a political answer, not a substantive answer for Florida,” Rooney said.
“If we can’t get permanent, I’d like to see the Senate give us as much as we can. I’d be open to a 10-year moratorium,” he added.
With 2020 on the horizon, the Florida delegation says inaction on this front could have serious consequences.
“There’s no doubt that Trump would lose Florida in the presidential election if he vetoes a bill that establishes a moratorium on offshore oil drilling,” Castor said.
Rooney also is issuing the same warning for his party.
“If Republicans don’t get behind these environmental issues, they are going to have a tough time winning enough seats to get in our way,” Rooney said.