In Florida , the environment is the economy, and Floridians understand the critical need to protect our coastline. Like you, I believe Florida 's beaches and marine ecosystem are among our most precious environmental resources. This fragile ecosystem is a complex mosaic of wetlands, bays, seagrasses, estuary systems, dunes, and beaches.
Congress and the Administration have debated opening areas off the coast of the Florida Panhandle for oil and natural gas drilling. In July, the administration attempted to add provisions to the Energy Bill while it was being debated that would have expanded oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Gulf of Mexico . In the end, the bill preserved the moratorium on oil drilling off Florida 's coasts, however, such attempts only serve to forecast future conflicts.
While the Administration abandoned its attempts earlier this year, I will remain vigilant in defense of our coastline. Despite improvements in technologies, oil drilling is accompanied by unacceptable risks of oil tanker and rig spills. Experience has shown that spills could result in significant damage to Florida 's marine ecosystem and our economy.