Home Environment Congressional Moratorium on Drilling Off FL Ends Thursday

Congressional Moratorium on Drilling Off FL Ends Thursday

offshore oil drilling facility

The longstanding Congressional moratorium protecting the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida from offshore drilling expires on Thursday June 30, leaving the area with less protection against oil industry pressure to open the area to leasing. The current moratorium was passed as part of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which codified offshore oil and gas leasing in Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and established the Military Mission Line that forbid leasing east of that Line.

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a permanent E. Gulf moratorium last fall as part of the Build Back Better Act. The U.S. Senate has yet to act on extending or making permanent the moratorium. Florida U.S. Senators Rubio and Scott have introduced a bill for a 10 year moratorium extension. In recent months, the Escambia County Commission, Santa Rosa Island Authority and Visit Pensacola have all issued resolutions and letters to elected officials asking for the existing moratorium to be made permanent.

In 2020, President Trump issued an executive action to extend the current moratorium to 2032. However, such an action is not binding on future presidents. Only a Congressional moratorium carries the full weight of the law, offering the most complete protection against any attempt by a president to lease offshore lands for drilling.

We include a sampling of local reaction to the end of the moratorium:

Ted Ent, President and CEO, Innisfree Hotels, Gulf Breeze, FL:

“Millions of people from around the world travel to Florida every year to enjoy our beaches. Every citizen and business in the state of Florida needs to support a permanent moratorium against off shore Drilling off the coast of Florida.”

Darien Schaefer, President and CEO, Visit Pensacola, Pensacola, FL:

“Visit Pensacola has consistently supported legislation to ban offshore drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast.  It’s disappointing that the moratorium has been allowed to expire. In addition to the trauma caused to marine life, water quality and the coast, the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill demonstrated that the economic damage extended past the shoreline to impact all aspects of living and working in Escambia County. The dramatic decrease in visitor spending resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill meant lost jobs, closed businesses, and reduced tax revenue to support city and county services.” 

“While the executive action taken by the Trump administration extended the moratorium to 2032, it is our hope that our legislators will put the Congressional Moratorium back in place. A permanent moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is essential to ensure the safekeeping of our greatest natural assets as well as protecting the future of our community.”

Rhonda Dorfman, president, Pensacola Beach Advocates:

“On behalf of the residents in our coastal community and across the Gulf Coast we should take a moment to call Senator Rubio‘s office and ask him to move forward on a bill for a 10 year moratorium extension or even better to make it permanent against offshore drilling off the coast of Florida.”

Christian Wagley, coastal organizer, Healthy Gulf:

“Any drilling in the eastern Gulf puts Florida’s beaches, tourism industry, military bases and quality of life at great risk. Passing a permanent moratorium would best protect our white sand and emerald waters from the dirty and dangerous pipelines, rigs, refineries and routine spills that foul the waters of other Gulf states.”

About Healthy Gulf

Healthy Gulf is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and restore the Gulf of Mexico and the people and communities along its shores. For more information or questions please contact Florida – Alabama Coastal Organizer Christian Wagley: christian@healthygulf.org or (850) 687-9968