Florida’s Nelson hits back at Gulf of Mexico drilling report

Nelson is fighting a proposal by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) that would shrink the no-drilling buffer off Florida’s gulf shores by allowing rigs as close as 45 miles from the coast, and even closer in gas-rich area called the Destin Dome.

Dorgan’s plan is part of a sweeping energy bill the Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved in June.

It would upend a 2006 compromise on gulf drilling that gave Florida a buffer until at least mid-2022 that extends 100-125 miles south off the Florida panhandle and roughly 235 miles west of Tampa.

Here’s Nelson’s full statement:

It should come as no surprise that a group that touts drilling off Florida should produce a study saying drilling there is okay.  Its report must be considered against a backdrop: it was produced by a group that helped craft and promote legislation that would allow oil drilling 45 miles off Florida’s coast. 

And it’s probably no coincidence that the sponsor of the legislation today also touted the study in question while renewing a call for passage of his bill.

As for the report citing claims by former or retired military that armed forces training off Florida could co-exist with drilling, the Pentagon for years has said otherwise.  It remains the Defense Department’s policy that military exercises and training in the eastern Gulf are incompatible with oil drilling operations.

The bottom line remains the same: oil drilling and military training don’t mix; and, there isn’t enough oil off Florida’s coast to make a difference in our country’s energy independence; nor is there enough to risk the environment and tourism-driven economy of the nation’s fourth largest state.