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Politics

Florida Democrats Go After Steve Southerland for Attacking Obama's Ocean Scheme

July 7, 2014 - 6:00pm
This week, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., drew fire from the Florida Democratic Party for his efforts to stop President Barack Obamas proposal to limit energy exploration and fishing in 780,000 miles of ocean.

Last month, Obama proposed to create the worlds largest ocean preserve which would end fishing and drilling in American waters around Hawaii and American Samoa. Taking a page from President George W. Bush, Obama looked to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and protect more aquatic life. Obama said his action was needed due to increased pollution and fishing posing a threat for future generations.

Southerland showcased his Marine Access and State Transparency (MAST) Act at a media event in Panama City on Monday. The MAST Act mandates Obamas proposal and any similar actions in the future would need to be approved by state governments bordering the impacted oceans, and Congress.

The presidents decision to cut off access to an area of ocean thats larger than Florida, Texas, and Alaska combined is the latest example of an administration that has been all too willing to overstep its bounds to impose an agenda thats out of touch with hard-working North Floridians, Southerland said.

Southerland was joined by local leaders -- including Bay County Commission Chairman Guy Tunnell, Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki and Bay County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Larry Carroll -- and industry representatives like Southeastern Fisheries Association Regional Director Eugene Raffield and Recreational Fishing Alliance board member Pam Anderson.

I was pleased to be joined today by representatives from our local government, small businesses, and fishing community to unveil legislation I introduced to empower states and turn back this unprecedented water grab, Southerland said. With local fishermen already suffering under a federally mandated nine-day red snapper season, its time to stand up against burdensome Washington mandates and say enough is enough.

But with Southerland as a top target in November, Democrats dismissed his bill as election-year politics. Gwen Graham, whose father Bob served two terms as governor and three terms in the U.S. Senate, is the Democratic candidate looking to topple Southerland.

Max Steele, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, noted that the federal sequestration which Southerland supported led to $1 million in cuts for fishery projects.

No election-year press conference can change the fact that Congressman Steve Southerlands do-nothing, self-interested D.C. politics are exactly what North Floridians hate about Congress, Steele said. Congressman Southerland shut down the government, complained about his taxpayer-funded salary and perks, and even slashed support for fishermen like those hes now claiming to protect. Instead of getting results for North Florida, Congressman Southerland has always looked out for himself which is exactly why North Florida families cannot afford Congressman Southerlands dysfunctional politics in Washington.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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