Two Florida congressmen are calling on President Donald Trump to back a “permanent moratorium on oil and gas drilling and pre-leasing activity East of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico” and want to meet with him on it.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., wrote Trump on the matter on Wednesday and asked for a meeting with him. Gaetz has been one of Trump’s most visible and vocal supporters on Capitol Hill. Rooney has generally voted with the administration but he broke with the White House on several fronts, including opposing Trump’s executive action on immigration and backing a carbon tax championed by Democrats including U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.
Gaetz and Rooney wrote Trump on why they supported the moratorium on offshore drilling.
“Florida’s economy depends on tourism, which requires clean beaches and healthy ecosystems. Our state is known for its pristine beaches and a welcoming, non-industrial environment. Not extending the moratorium on offshore drilling will place Florida at risk as a premier tourist destination. A fact which voters are keenly aware of,” they wrote.
“Further, offshore drilling in this area is incompatible with current and future military operations,” Gaetz and Rooney added. “The Eastern Gulf is home to the Gulf Test Range, a 120,000 square mile range that stretches from the Florida panhandle to the Keys. This unimpeded training and testing area is a crucial national security asset for military exercises that cannot be carried out anywhere else in the United States.
“The proximity to major military bases and its large scale make the Eastern Gulf of Mexico area a unique asset for national defense that cannot be replicated. Additionally, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida’s military bases have over $70 billion in economic impact on our state,” they continued. “If the moratorium established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act expires in 2022, this leaves open the possibility of drilling just a few miles from Florida’s beaches and shores. Florida faces an existential threat from offshore drilling, which would undermine our $150+ billion tourism- and recreation-based economy. Florida voters expect their elected officials to take action and protect the environment.
“We are requesting a timely meeting to address how we can continue to protect Florida’s environment, tourism revenue, and the military readiness of the United State of America,” they wrote.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.