A group of Florida lawmakers, led by US Senator Bill Nelson, have written to US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke asking him to keep the eastern Gulf of Mexico off limits to oil and gas drilling for at least the next five years.
The letter was prompted by concerns that Zinke may consider a new five-year plan for managing the Outer Continental Shelf over the period 2017-2022.
Democrat Nelson and 16 members of the US House of Representatives from both sides of the political aisle cited the threat any oil and gas exploration could pose to the tourism industry in the state’s coastal areas.
It also could be at odds with the military training and weapons testing that happens in the eastern Gulf, the letter said.
Since 2006 there has been a moratorium on drilling there and a few weeks previously the administration had said it planned to keep it in place until 2022. But then reports emerged that they could be reconsidering. Hence the letter from the politicians.
The letter references 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster off Louisiana as an example of how drilling can negatively impact tourism and other local industries.
It also appeals to Zinke’s Navy Seal background by playing up the importance of military training and how it could be incompatible with oil and gas projects in proximity.