Mr. POSEY. Mr. Chair, I filed an amendment to the 2012 Department of the Interior appropriations bill that would provide a 25-mile buffer along Florida's coast to ensure that new oil and gas drilling would not take place above the Outer Continental Shelf within 25 miles of Florida's coast line.
After reviewing the Interior bill and current drilling policies in the Atlantic and the Gulf, I have decided to hold off offering the amendment on the floor for this particular bill, which covers only the next fiscal year. There is not an imminent threat of drilling near Florida's coast due to current restrictions on leasing and drilling.
That said, going forward, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to tap more of our own domestic energy resources while taking common sense steps to preserve Florida's tourism economy.
It is important to note, as the amendment is drafted, that directional drilling within 25 miles would still be allowed.
The amendment make no changes--zero, nada, zilch--to the Gulf moratorium that is in place, or the Department of the Interior's current lease plans in the Atlantic.
Tourism is Florida's number one industry. My amendment would ensure that beach tourism is not harmed. Obviously, neither you nor your constituents would prefer seeing a drilling platform in lieu of a sunrise.
Just as fuel is important to our economy, so. are our beaches. The amendment encourages the best possible stewardship of both, while protecting beach goers' line of sight, and preserving the scenic vistas that tourists come to Florida to enjoy.
Getting Florida's economy turned around is important. Our economy has already been harmed by the end of the Space Shuttle program. Agriculture, construction, and housing sectors continue to struggle.
Preserving a 25-mile buffer would send a message to visitors, nationwide and worldwide, that we are protecting the pristine nature of our shores that have traditionally drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It says to millions of tourists that we remain open for their tourism business now and into the future.
Preserving a 25-mile buffer would be an important step toward ensuring that tourism, a bright and recovering sector of our economy, which brings an enormous amount of foreign dollars and tax revenue into the United States, continues to recover.
Again, this amendment would pertain only to drilling above the Outer Continental Shelf. Directional drilling within 25 miles would still be allowed.
I hope all of my colleagues would support this or a similar amendment in future legislation. This issue is ultimately important to every member of this House.
I look forward to you, and your constituents, visiting our wonderful beaches. They are some of the best in the world, and--with your help--they will remain that way.