Politics & Government

Florida voters said no to offshore drilling. Buchanan’s new bill takes ban even further

After introducing seven new bills on the first day of the congressional session, Rep. Vern Buchanan is co-sponsoring one more.

The Republican lawmaker from Longboat Key has teamed up with Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Francis Rooney, R-Fla., and Charlie Crist, D-Fla., to reintroduce the Florida Coastal Protection Act, which has won bipartisan support. The legislation would make permanent the current moratorium protecting waters up to 235 miles off Florida’s coast. It is currently set to expire in June 2022.

“Allowing drilling off of Florida’s pristine coasts would be a colossal mistake. Red tide has already plagued the Sunshine State — it would be imprudent to invite the potential for another catastrophic oil spill that would devastate Florida’s economy and environment,” Buchanan said.

Florida voters signaled their approval of an offshore drilling ban with 69 percent voting yes on Amendment 9 in November. That protection, however, only applies to state waters — three miles into the Atlantic and nine miles into the Gulf of Mexico. The bill would significantly expand those protections to federal waters.

“Florida voters spoke clearly in November: no drilling off our coasts,” Crist said. “Our job is to be their voice in Washington, sending that same message loud and clear with this bill to block harmful drilling and exploration off of Florida. We cannot afford another disaster devastating our waters, healthy and economy.”

With his latest bill, Buchanan renewed his efforts to keep oil drilling off the table in Florida. He has previously sponsored bills to strengthen oil rig protections and fought Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s plan to begin drilling waters off Florida’s coast.

Other bills Buchanan introduced last week include the No Pay Raise for Congress Act, the Thin Blue Line Act and the Veterans Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act.

“As the new Congress commences, I am hopeful that we can advance meaningful bipartisan legislation to continue generating economic growth and opportunity for millions of Americans,” said Buchanan.