By KEVIN DERBY
Towards the end of last week, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., introduced a proposal closing off energy exploration in the South Atlantic and extends the moratorium on energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico through 2029.
Rutherford dubbed his proposal the “Bolstering Economies, Anglers, Coastal Habitats, Ecosystems, and Security (BEACHES) in Florida Act” and reeled in the support of much of the Florida delegation in the U.S. House.
“At a time when the United States is exporting record quantities of oil and gas, there is no need to conduct new drilling off the Florida coast,” said Rutherford on Friday.
Rutherford pointed to almost 70 percent of voters backing a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning offshore drilling in state waters back in November.
“Florida voters spoke loud and clear last year by passing an amendment to the state constitution banning drilling in state waters,” he said. “Now it’s time for the federal government to step up and protect our beaches, ecosystems, and national security. I am proud to see strong bipartisan support among the Florida delegation for the BEACHES in Florida Act – together we will get this bill signed into law and ensure Florida remains closed to offshore drilling for the next ten years.”
Rutherford’s proposal has most of the Florida delegation lined up behind it. Cosponsors of the bill include Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Francis Rooney, Ross Spano, Michael Waltz and Ted Yoho.
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee last week. So far, there is no companion legislation over in the U.S. Senate.