Policy News

Competing Legislation Brings Offshore Drilling Exploration Legislation to Congress

Some environmental groups are supporting legislation introduced by Florida congressional representatives to prohibit offshore drilling exploration. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oceana, and the National Park Conservation Association officially endorsed his legislation. In May, Florida members of the House of Representatives Patrick Murphy and Bill Posey introduced the legislation alongside several fellow Florida Reps. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (Florida) introduced the companion legislation in the Senate. Nelson’s and Murphy’s companion bills comes after a group of Republicans, led by Sen. Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), filed a bill in early May to open up the area to oil drilling as soon as 2016.

“Drilling off the coast is not what the people of Florida want,” Senator Nelson said. “We want fishing vessels hauling in prize catches, not coast guard vessels skimming oil.”

Congress instituted a ban on drilling within at least 125 miles of the Florida coast in 2006. The moratorium is set to expire in 2022. Cassidy’s bill would allow drilling no less than 50 miles from the Florida coastline and create a revenue-sharing program between Florida and the federal government.

John Adornato, Sun Coast Regional Director of the National Park Conservation Association, said “Recent scientific findings show that allowing seismic testing off the coast of these parks would jeopardize threatened and endangered marine wildlife like sea turtles and whales. Not only are park resources at risk but the more than $627 million in economic benefits that Florida’s national parks provide for the state will also be threatened. The National Park Conservation Association strongly supports Rep. Murphy’s legislation and applauds the bipartisan work of the Florida delegation to put a hold on seismic testing until studies by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determine that drilling can be done safely and will not harm national park resources. We stand ready to work with them on this important effort.”

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