Like most of America’s coasts, Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline has been protected by the 25-year bipartisan congressional moratorium on new offshore oil and gas drilling. In 1991, President George H. W. Bush instituted a separate set of protections on new coastal drilling near the Florida Keys, which President Bill Clinton extended through 2012 for most of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, ended protections for Florida’s Gulf Coast and opened up 8 million acres off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for oil and gas drilling. And, for the first time ever, 37 percent of the revenue from drilling would go to Gulf Coast states rather than the federal treasury – a precedent that could encourage more states to support drilling off their coasts and cost federal taxpayers billions.
Although many senators have introduced bills that would truly address our nation’s energy problems, such as raising fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, Senate leaders ignored clean energy solutions and brought S. 3711 up for a vote on the Senate floor. Opponents of the bill mounted a filibuster and urged that the Senate consider faster, cheaper, and cleaner energy proposals, but on July 31, 2006, the Senate voted 72-23 to end debate on the bill (Senate roll call vote 218). NO is the pro-environment vote. The next day, the Senate approved the bill by a 71-25 vote (Senate roll call vote 219). NO is the pro-environment vote. At press time, the bill had not been reconciled with the House’s more sweeping drilling legislation.