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Rubio, Scott, Waltz Urge Congressional Leadership to Protect Florida’s Waters & Gulf Test Range

Oct 17, 2022 | Press Releases

Florida’s Gulf Test Range, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is one of the United States military’s most important testing and training areas. That is why the area has been protected by various policies and regulations since 1983, and Congress codified protections in 2006.
 
Democrats want to change that. Buried in their $749 billion reckless climate and tax bill was a provision to strip previous protections and open the door to the construction of offshore wind turbines in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. 
 
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) are urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to prohibit energy exploration and development east of the Military Mission Line in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).   
 
U.S. Representatives Scott Franklin (R-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Carlos Giménez (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Mario Díaz Balart (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Kat Cammack (R-FL) also signed the letter.
 

  • “We write with the gravest possible concern about the national security implications of allowing offshore energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM).” 

 

  • “In 2020, President Trump extended the protections for the Gulf Test Range…, providing certainty that the range would continue to serve U.S. national security needs. Unfortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act stripped that protection and opens the door to offshore wind development in the Gulf Test Range.”

 
Last month… Rubio and Scott introduced standalone legislation to prohibit energy exploration and development east of the Military Mission Line. Waltz introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 
 
For the record… Rubio has long protected Florida’s natural resources from the threat of offshore oil and gas drilling. His advocacy achieved a major victory in September 2020 when then-President Trump signed an Executive Order to extend the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida to 2032. Rubio introduced the American Shores Protection Act to codify the moratorium. 
 
The full text of the letter is below. 
 
Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Republican Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
 
We write with the gravest possible concern about the national security implications of allowing offshore energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM). In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) which prohibited oil and gas exploration and development, among other places, east of the Military Mission Line in the EGOM. In 2020, President Trump extended the protections for the Gulf Test Range by using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to withdraw the submerged lands of the test range from consideration for energy leasing or development, providing certainty that the range would continue to serve U.S. national security needs. Unfortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act stripped that protection and opens the door to offshore wind development in the Gulf Test Range.
 
Energy development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would catastrophically jeopardize the Gulf Test Range, which is crucial to our readiness for a fight in the Indo-Pacific. According to a report required by the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act:
 
           The eastern Gulf of Mexico is an irreplaceable national asset… the unique capabilities present in the region have been developed over decades through the investment of billions of taxpayer dollars and countless hours of effort by federal, state, and private organizations and local citizens. No other area in the world provides the U.S. military with ready access to a highly instrumented, network-connected, surrogate environment for military operations in the… Indo-Pacific Theater. … No other area offers the DoD a comparable combination of air space, water space, and existing infrastructure to support military activities.
 
In discussions with experts in the Air Force on what allowing wind development in the Gulf Test Range would do to our testing capabilities, one individual stated that this was a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation.” The immediate and long-lasting national security impact of allowing exploration and development of wind energy inside the Gulf Test Range demands immediate Congressional action to protect the Gulf Test Range.
 
We must reinstate the moratorium on energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico. As such, we introduced legislation and will seek to include language to protect our military asset in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. We urge you to join us in protecting the critical capabilities the Gulf Test Range provides.                    
 
Sincerely,