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Rubio, Scott Urge Interior Department to Exclude Florida from Offshore Drilling Plan
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt urging that the Department’s next five-year Proposed Plan for offshore oil and gas drilling exclude all areas along Florida’s coast. Senator Rubio’s Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act (S. 13) would extend the current moratorium on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico through 2027 and would allow Florida to access additional resources for coastal conservation that are available to the other Gulf states. Rubio reintroduced the legislation on the first day of the 116th Congress.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Acting Secretary Bernhardt,
Last year, when the Department of the Interior announced its National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program that would greatly expand offshore drilling opportunities, we expressed our opposition to the inclusion of the moratorium areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM) Planning Area and called for the immediate removal of all of Florida’s offshore waters from consideration. Citing the broad support within the state for protecting Florida’s coastline from the potential risks from offshore drilling, your predecessor was publicly supportive of our request. In addition, the people of Florida recently demonstrated this broad support when they overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution banning drilling for oil and natural gas in state waters.
Florida’s coastline and offshore waters have incredible environmental and economic value not only for Florida, but also for the nation. In fact, several offshore areas surrounding Florida, including all waters east of the Military Mission Line in the EGOM, are essential for developing and sustaining United States military readiness and advanced weapons testing. We remain concerned about the impacts of oil and gas activities on Florida’s marine and coastal environment, as well as the military activities critical to our national security. Oil spills, such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, have demonstrated the catastrophic impacts increased oil and gas drilling around Florida could wreak on our state’s environmental resources, fisheries, tourism, and economy.
Once again, we urge the Department to stand by your commitment to exclude the offshore waters around Florida from further consideration in its National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Plan. We welcome the opportunity to continue working with you to preserve Florida’s natural treasures and the economic benefits they help to support for generations to come.
A timeline of Rubio efforts related to offshore drilling:
- On January 24, 2018, Rubio joined members of the Florida delegation in sending a letter to Interior Secretary Zinke reiterating strong opposition to any attempt to open up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.
- On January 19, 2018, Rubio and Dunn lead the entire Florida delegation in a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to ensure Florida’s military capabilities are unaffected by the Interior Departments offshore drilling proposal.
- On January 4, 2018, in response to the Interior Department’s release of its draft 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing plan, Rubio released a statement urging Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes.
- On May 4, 2017, Rubio originally introduced the Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act, which would extend the moratorium on energy exploration in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and make Florida eligible to receive a share of revenue generated by drilling in the central and western portions of the Gulf. Rubio reintroduced the bill (S. 13) on January 3, 2019.