The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019, a measure sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney (R) that would make the 2006 moratorium on offshore oil drilling permanent along the coast of Florida.
The bill passed by a 248-180 vote count with Rep. Ted Yoho (R) being the only member of the Florida Caucus to vote against it.
“Offshore drilling is unacceptable for our communities and is simply not worth the risk of endangering our economy, environment or marine life,” Rep. Brian Mast (R) said. “I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: oil drilling near our Florida coastlines will not be tolerated. That’s what these bills are all about.”
Shortly after the vote, Rep. Rooney told The Floridian that the vote signified that the “people of Florida mean what they say” and that “ the people of Florida don’t want offshore oil drilling.”
When we asked Rooney about his bill’s prospects over in the U.S. Senate, and if he thought Majority Leader McConnell would pass a permanent moratorium, Rooney simply responded by saying that the “environment in the Senate is more hostile to this” than in the House, where he had the support of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
“We are going to see what our senators can do,” said Francis “It’s a Republican Senate, and we have two Republican senators. Let’s see if they can get this thing over the finish line.”
Rooney says that he has spoken to both Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and while Rooney says the Scott told him he would “look it over,” he and Rubio have been “going back and forth for a couple of years” on how to get “the best deal” out of the Senate , once the House first passes a bill
“We’ll see who wants to step up and who doesn’t,” added Rooney.
But even if both chambers of Congress pass the bill, it could be a very heavy lift getting President Donald Trump to sign the bill.
The Trump administration has already signaled that it would veto Rooney’s bill.
Rooney said that the life of the bill could be solely supported on what Rubio “can get done in the Senate, saying that he and other legislators need to make the president aware or “realize how people of Florida think, and how important it is to Florida.”
“Offshore drilling off the coast of Florida would create an industrial coastline less appealing to visitors, hinder our military readiness, and adversely affect our environment. I want to ensure that all areas east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico are permanently protected from offshore drilling, so these negative consequences do not transpire. Floridians overwhelmingly support the idea as evidenced by the 69% approval of a 2018 state constitutional amendment banning offshore drilling off the coast of Florida. The military has supported this as well, since the Eastern Gulf is America’s largest testing ground.”- Rep. Francis Rooney (R)
Florida’s business interests also wanted to see the permanent measure passed.
“The current moratorium ending in 2022 is a threat to Florida,” said Edie Ousley, Vice President of Public Affairs, Florida Chamber of Commerce “We support protecting as much of the eastern gulf range for as long as can be negotiated by Congress and the President so that we have more certainty than we do now.”