Buchanan, Wasserman Schultz Bill Bans Drilling
WASHINGTON — Rep. Vern Buchanan announced he is introducing legislation today with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to protect Florida’s coastlines from devastating oil spills.
“Florida’s beaches are vital to our economy and way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean.”
Specifically, the Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act would extend by five years a ban on oil drilling off much of Florida’s Gulf coast until 2027. The current moratorium, which bans oil drilling within 125 miles of most of the Gulf, is set to expire on June 30, 2022.
The legislation also makes the oil company responsible for a spill pay for cleanup efforts and provides grant funding to states. Currently oil companies are only held accountable for oil spill cleanup if the oil is transported in a single-hull vessel.
“Our coastline and pristine beaches are true environmental treasures and the lifeblood of Florida’s tourism economy,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It would be malpractice and colossally irresponsible to allow oil drilling activities to jeopardize all that.”
Additionally, the bill establishes the Gulf Coast Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, which would fight oil spill threats before they occur by tracking industry activity and recommending safety practices. The Council is mirrored on the Prince William Sound citizens’ advisory council, which was established by Congress after the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The bill, which will be formally introduced today, also comes on the heels of a recent Trump administration proposal that could open up more than 70 million acres off the coast of Florida to oil and gas drilling over the next five years starting this August. Buchanan, a longtime opponent of drilling off the Gulf, recently joined a bipartisan group in writing to the Interior Secretary in opposition to the plan.
Buchanan wants to protect Florida’s coastline from oil spills such as the one caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion – one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
The Deepwater Horizon spill spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the lives of 11 workers, decimated the region’s iconic wildlife and severely damaged our fishing and tourism industries.
As Floridians know all too well, an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and inflict long-term environmental damage.
Buchanan’s opposition to drilling off the Florida coast includes strong support for 2016 Interior Department rules spelling out national well safety requirements, such as more frequent testing of blowout preventers. The Congressman also sponsored legislation in 2011 that would stop Cuba from drilling within 50 miles of Florida and voted against opening Florida’s coast to drilling in 2011.