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House Lawmakers Seek Permanent Ban on Florida Coastal Drilling

July 18, 2005
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A Florida Republican in the House was joined by 18 other lawmakers from the state's congressional delegation last week in introducing legislation to permanently ban oil and natural gas drilling off the Florida coastline.

The bill, the "Florida Coastline Protection Act of 2005," seeks to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban oil and gas leasing in certain areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), including the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida and the South Atlantic planning area, which extends from the Straits of Florida to the border between Florida and Georgia. It was introduced by Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).

The existing congressional moratorium on drilling in much of the OCS (the East Coast, West Coast and the eastern half of the Gulf) expires in 2012.

Harris also has vowed to work with other members of the Florida congressional delegation to ensure that a provision calling for the federal government to conduct an inventory of oil and gas resources on the OCS is stripped from the final conference report on the omnibus energy bill. The inventory, which was proposed by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), was approved by the Senate for inclusion in the energy bill in late June (see NGI, June 27).

Lawmakers from Florida, California and some other coastal states see a resource inventory as a first step by Congress to remove the 24-year-old moratorium on oil and gas exploration and production in the OCS.

Harris' co-sponsors from the Florida delegation included 16 Republicans and two Democrats, Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Alcee Hastings.

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