U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, defended his opposition to a bill -- HR 3408
, the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environment, Energy and Resource Security (PIONEERS) Act -- approved 237-187 Thursday, that is aimed at ending the ban on drilling along Florida’s west coast.
Rivera noted that while the bill, sponsored by Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., would extend the current law that prohibits energy exploration east of the Military Mission Line -- a distance of nearly 234 miles from Florida’s coast -- from 2022 to 2025, it also would open three areas east of the line to drilling.
Each of the three areas could be up to 450 square miles.
“However, there is no indication in the bill as to where these lease blocks would be,” Rivera stated in a release. “There is only a stipulation that they be ‘in areas with the most promising oil and gas resources.’ This ambiguity means that drilling could, theoretically, occur as close as 12 miles off the coast of the Florida Keys.
“I fully support expanding our domestic energy capacity and exploration for additional energy resources. These efforts help decrease our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our nation’s economy. However, allowing exploration so close to Florida’s beaches and shores, particularly South Florida and the Florida Keys, could have a negative impact on our state’s environment and on our tourism and hospitality industry, a lifeblood of Florida’s economy.”
Among the Florida delegation, Rivera was joined in opposition by Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville; Kathy Castor, D-Tampa; Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston; Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens; Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota; Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami; Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla; Richard Nugent, R-Spring Hills; Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami; Steve Southerland, R-Panama City; Allen West, R-Plantation; and Bill Young, R-Indian Shores.
Voting for the bill from Florida were: Representatives Clifford Stearns, R-Ocala; Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville; John Mica, Winter Park; Bill Posey, R-Rockledge; Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta; Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland; and Daniel Webster, R-Orlando.
Rep. Connie Mack, R-Naples, is listed as having abstained.
The bill, crafted to highlight the White House restrictions on offshore drilling, isn’t expected to advance with the Democratic majority in the Senate or survive approval from President Barack Obama.
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