Florida Beach

Rep. John Rutherford Seeks To Protect Florida’s Precious Coasts With PROTECT Florida Act 

Florida Beach
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Florida Rep. John Rutherford seeks to block exploration for oil and natural gas off Florida’s coasts for another decade.

The Jacksonville Republican last week introduced the Preserving Recreation, Oceans, Tourism, Environment, and Coastal Towns — or PROTECT Florida — Act. The bill would enshrine in law a moratorium on oil and gas leasing, seismic testing, and exploration in federal waters off the coasts of Florida until 2032.

The bill codifies an executive order signed by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

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Trump did so two years after Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning drilling for oil and natural gas in state waters.

Trump’s ban blocked such activity in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and established a moratorium in the South Atlantic Ocean and Straits of Florida until 2032.

In a press release issued Thursday, Rutherford’s office noted that Florida’s economy relies on healthy and pristine beaches.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that Florida’s coastal economy contributes roughly $760 billion to the national GDP through tourism, fishing, and recreation.

“Florida’s coastal environment is a central part of our state’s economy and way of life,” Rutherford said in a statement. “That is why I have worked to protect our environment through prudent regulations that prevent unnecessary harm. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have voted several times to prohibit offshore drilling and seismic testing in annual funding bills. This commonsense, bipartisan bill would ensure our environment is preserved for generations to come.”

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According to Rutherford’s office, 14 Florida lawmakers have signed on to the PROTECT Florida Act.

They include Republican Reps. Mike Waltz, Mario Diaz-Balart, Scott Franklin, Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Gimenez, Maria Elvira Salazar, Daniel Webster, Brian Mast, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Kat Cammack, and Vern Buchanan. They are joined by two Democrats: Reps. Lois Frankel and Darren Soto.

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