Starting his second term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., unveiled a bill to “permanently ban oil and gas leasing, preleasing, and related activities in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”
Rooney introduced his bill amending the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 on Thursday. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday.
After introducing the bill, Rooney explained why he had brought it out.
“Water quality impacts all of Florida’s residents and visitors,” Rooney said. “I want to ensure that all areas east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico are permanently protected from offshore oil drilling. In 2022, the moratorium on drilling and exploration will expire. Offshore drilling will negatively affect our environment, tourism, and military readiness. I am fighting to protect our Florida coast for future generations to enjoy - Florida’s economy is dependent on clean water and a healthy environment.”
So far, Rooney has been able to reel in a copsonsor from the other side of the aisle in U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.
With Democrats taking control of the House after the November elections, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brought back the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and tapped Castor to lead it.
This is not a new issue for Rooney. Early last year, he unveiled the “Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act” which would ensure the federal moratorium banning oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would become permanent. In 2017, Rooney threw his support behind Castor’s “Florida Coastal Protection Act" which would also make the moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf and around parts of South Florida permanent. Rooney also backed U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s, D-Fla., “Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act" which extends the moratorium until 2027.
First elected to Congress in 2016 to represent parts of Southwest Florida, Rooney served as ambassador to the Holy See during then President George W. Bush’s second term. He represents a solidly Republican district.