Representatives, activists, call to protect Florida from offshore oil drilling; endorse Biden position

06-25-20 Offshore oil press conferenceParticipants in today’s Zoom press conference.   (Image: Author)

June 25, 2020 by David Silverberg.

Florida members of the House of Representatives and grassroots activists today called on the state’s senators to work for passage of legislation protecting the state from offshore oil drilling.

Reps. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-26-Fla.), Emma Haydocy, director of Florida Bay Forever, a Keys-based environmental activist group, and Daniel Andrews, executive director of Captains for Clean Water, a water purity advocacy group, made the call in a Zoom press conference.

All endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s call for no new offshore drilling.

“At least in Florida, where we have a pristine environment, yes,” said Rooney in response to a question on Biden’s position.

The legislation the group supports is the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019 (House Resolution (HR) 205)), introduced by Rooney, passed in the House and currently in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. (For a full account of the legislation and the issue see “Trump, Biden and Florida’s Gulf shore oil war.”)

All the speakers warned of the danger to Florida of offshore oil exploitation.

“It’s impossible to guarantee spill-free offshore drilling,” said Rooney, who noted that he had been on the board of an offshore drilling company and had worked as a contractor on one the largest offshore oil platforms.

“Anything that’s going to spill [in the Gulf of Mexico] is going to cover Florida,” he said, citing the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010 and others since. “We can’t have the threat or even the potential threat against Florida.” He added that even the oil industry recognizes the danger presented by offshore drilling and the Shell Oil Company recently downsized a planned drilling platform by 90 percent.

The opposition to offshore oil drilling includes the US Defense Department and other members of Congress representing states with the potential for offshore drilling, according to Rooney.

Rooney recalled that when Ryan Zinke was Interior Department secretary (March 1, 2017 to January 2, 2019) he came to a meeting of members of Congress called by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23-Calif.). At the time, Zinke had declared that Florida—and Florida alone—was protected from offshore oil drilling. Representatives from other states complained and asked why Florida was exempted. “We just got there first,” said Rooney.

(According to a July 16, 2019 report from the US House Natural Resources Committee, the Florida exemption was established to aid then-Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate bid.)

On May 29 The Paradise Progressive posed questions to Florida Republican senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio asking whether they had taken any actions to support or advance HR 205 in the Senate.

No answer has been received to date.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg



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