Reps. Buchanan, Wasserman Schultz introduce bill to extend Florida drilling ban

Published on May 04, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) introduced this week legislation that would extend a ban on oil drilling off much of Florida’s Gulf coast until 2027 and take steps to prevent oil spills.

The current moratorium bans oil drilling within 125 miles of most of the Gulf and is set to expire on
June 30, 2022.

“Florida’s beaches are vital to our economy and way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean.”

The bill would also make the oil company responsible for paying for cleanup in the case of a spill and provide grant funding to states. Currently, oil companies are only required to pay for spill cleanup if the oil is transported in a single-hull vessel.

The legislation would also establish the Gulf Coast Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, which would track industry activity and recommend safety practices.

“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.”

The bill follows a proposal by the Trump Administration that could open up over 70 million acres off the coast of Florida to oil and gas drilling over the next five years starting this August. Buchanan recently wrote a letter with a group of other lawmakers to the Interior Secretary in opposition to the plan.