Thursday, July 2, 2009

U.S. Senate Committee Scraps Florida Drilling Protections - Environment Florida

U.S. Senate Committee Scraps Florida Drilling Protections - Environment Florida:

"U.S. Senate Committee Scraps Florida Drilling Protections

2006 Compromise Betrayed as Oil Rigs Allowed as Close as 45 Miles

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted today to remove Florida’s unique and critical protections against offshore oil and gas drilling. The amendment, offered by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), revokes long-term protections against Eastern Gulf drilling within 125 miles of Pensacola and 250 miles from Tampa Bay and replaces it with a buffer just 45 miles from Florida’s coastline, effective immediately.

“We’re deeply disappointed that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee broke its promise to Florida,” said Environment Florida Advocate Adam Rivera. “This is a cautionary tale not to compromise with oil companies and their allies in Congress, since such compromises will not be upheld for long.”

The 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act put in place current protections for Florida’s federal waters, which last until 2022. The Dorgan Amendment, which was adopted by a margin of 13-10, also opens the “Destin Dome,” long sought after by oil and gas interests, a mere 25 miles from the coast of Pensacola.

Florida would bear huge risk from increased drilling, while receiving a negligible reward. Based on the experience of other Gulf drilling operations, small spills—like the 500 gallon spill off a Louisiana rig in June 2006 that killed hundreds of endangered pelicans in a National Wildlife Refuge—would be common if Florida’s coastal and marine waters were opened to drilling. A catastrophic"


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