The House of Representatives voted on Sept. 11 to permanently protect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico from offshore drilling. The passage of the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act and the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act follows a bipartisan House appropriations vote in June to block funding for new offshore drilling activities for the fiscal year 2020.
The Coastal Protection Act, introduced by Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), would permanently block offshore oil and gas leasing in the Straits of Florida and in both the oceans. The Securing Florida’s Coastline Act, introduced by Mr. Rooney and Representative Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), would amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 to permanently block offshore oil and gas leasing off Florida’s Gulf Coast. The moratorium in the Eastern Gulf is set to expire in 2022.
Every East and West Coast governor has expressed opposition to offshore drilling, along with officials of more than 365 coastal municipalities; more than 2,200 local, state, and federal officials; coastal alliances representing more than 49,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families; New England, South, and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils; commercial and recreational fishing interests including the Southeastern Fisheries Association, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Southern Shrimp Alliance, Billfish Foundation, and International Game Fish Association; the California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission, and California State Lands Commission, as well as the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Air Force, and the Florida Defense Support Task Force.
Diane Hoskins, campaign director of the ocean conservation advocacy group Oceana, said in a Sept. 11 statement, “Representatives Cunningham, Rooney, and Castor should be applauded for putting politics aside and coming together to protect our coasts from offshore drilling. Today’s vote to permanently ban offshore drilling underscores the strength of bipartisan opposition to President Trump’s radical drilling plan. Opening nearly all our waters to dirty and dangerous drilling is out of touch with every East and West Coast governor. Offshore drilling threatens our fishing, tourism, and recreation industries and everyone who calls the coast home. But the fight is not over and we must not give up until permanent protections are established or President Trump’s plan is officially off the table.”