Buchanan Demands Drilling Moratorium until 2027

Todays News


While efforts to open Florida’s Gulf Coast to oil exploration, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, says the state is not “out of the woods” yet. He called on a five-year extension of a drilling moratorium on the state’s coast on Monday while promoting bipartisan legislation filed with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Sunrise.

Although I’m pleased the Trump Administration has backed off plans to expand drilling off Florida’s coasts for now, we need to pass my bill extending the drilling moratorium until 2027,” Buchanan said. “Without legislation extending and codifying the ban in law, any future administration could change that policy. We need to put it in law.”

The Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act, which was introduced by Buchanan and Wasserman Schultz in May, would extend a moratorium until 2027 on commercial industrial activity in certain areas of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to open up portions of the Gulf to drilling, but after a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott last week announced that drilling off Florida would be “off the table.” Oil industry leaders said at the time there would likely be no new leases in those areas before the year 2022, when the existing drilling moratorium expires, because of the time needed to secure proper permissions and get teams in place.

Lori LeBlanc, executive director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team, last August wrote a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management supporting opening new areas in the Outer Continental Shelf to oil exploration. “There is an extensive estimated amount of undiscovered oil and gas in our nations OCS, yet 94 percent is off limits to development,” LeBlanc wrote, “which is detrimental to American job growth, economic prosperity and the opportunity for energy dominance.”

According to the group, 18.2 percent of US oil production comes from offshore oil drilling, along with 4.4 percent of the nation’s natural gas production. And 90 percent of American offshore oil production comes from the Gulf of Mexico, where 1.5 million barrels of oil were produced per day on average in 2015.

But Buchanan said Florida’s tourism economy depends on its beaches, and the risks of oil drilling prove too great. Specifically, he noted the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, when a spill spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf after an explosion that killed 11 people. “Florida’s beaches are vital to our economy and way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we cannot risk another catastrophic event like Deepwater Horizon.”

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