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Public Statements

Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the amendment put forth about by my good friend from Pennsylvania (Mr. Peterson), which would overturn a long-standing bipartisan moratorium on new gas drilling.

Under Mr. Peterson's amendment, we could see drilling for natural gas as close as 25 miles from our precious coastlines. Despite claims by its supporters, the Peterson amendment is not a viable short-term nor long-term solution to our energy needs. Instead, this proposal could damage sensitive habitats and undermine the economic future of our coastal towns and cities.

In my own congressional district, I am privileged to represent such underwater treasures as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the most extensive living coral reef system in the Continental United States.

In addition to its aesthetic value, this marine ecosystem also supports tourism and commercial fishing, the economic livelihood of the Florida Keys. Any offshore oil drilling near this area could place thousands of rare and vulnerable marine plant species in harm's way and could potentially cripple the local economy.

Furthermore, drilling structures along the gulf coast would be located in the middle of hurricane alley. Proponents of this amendment say that current production methods safeguard against any environmental damage resulting from a tropical storm or a hurricane. Mr. Chairman, as many of us know firsthand, sadly, there is no such thing as being hurricane proof. Given the scientific likelihood for stronger and more frequent storms in the gulf and along our Atlantic coast, offshore oil drilling presents a sizable risk of onshore damage and water pollution in the event of the next big one.

I encourage my colleagues' help in making sure that we can protect Florida's coastline as well as our Nation's ecosystem by voting ``no'' on the Peterson amendment.

My Florida colleague, my good friend (Mr. Mica), who, as he states, favors drilling even in the Everglades, says that it is fear versus facts. Well, Mr. Chairman, the fact is that the Florida Keys depends on the 4 million tourists who come to the area every year for its economic livelihood. The debate is not about fear. It is about economic reality. Our coastal towns and cities will be devastated financially with the adoption of the Peterson amendment.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the Peterson amendment.


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