TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former CFO Alex Sink joined state lawmakers, environmental interest groups and others today in promoting a constitutional ban on beachfront oil exploration and drilling in Florida.
To protect Florida’s economy and environment, Rep. Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) is sponsoring legislation to prohibit beachfront oil exploration and drilling in the state’s territorial waters. HJR 383 is an amendment to section 7, Article II of the State Constitution and would ban exploration, drilling, extraction and production of oil beneath Florida waters.
Meanwhile, the Florida Wildlife Federation, numerous environmental groups and a bipartisan group of Florida leaders, including Governor Crist, CFO Sink, former state Senator Durrell Peaden, a Republican, along with State Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) and House Minority Leader Pro Tempore Joseph Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach) are leading a petition effort to allow the public to vote on near-shore oil drilling and to ban the possibility of this destructive practice.
“Many Floridians call this great state our home because of our magnificent beaches and beautiful coastal waters,” Crist said Wednesday. “As a result, we have a responsibility to protect Florida for future generations. As your governor, I fought to protect the Everglades, promote renewable resources and maintain sound growth management policies, and we need to continue the fight to preserve Florida with this amendment.”
CFO Sink said: “Drilling within 10 miles of Florida’s beaches is a risk we cannot afford. We must protect our tourism and visitor economy, as well as our fisheries and coastal environment.”
Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando), helped organize Wednesday’s announcement in Tallahassee. “We stand here today, united as public servants, with one clear message: Save our Florida beaches!” said Soto. “We want to give the people of Florida the opportunity to send a message as well...to future generations, the federal government and the millions of tourists who grace our shores every year that we will not allow drilling within 10 miles of our coast.”
Representative Kriseman added: “This is our opportunity to be proactive and protect Florida’s economy and unique environment from the whims of future lawmakers.”
Representative Gibbons said several events will take place in upcoming weeks to promote the petition effort. He called on supporters to visit www.saveourfloridabeaches.net to gain more information about the petition. “Drilling near our coast is not the answer to our energy challenges,” Gibbons said.
The proposed constitutional amendment offered by lawmakers will:
Allow voters to decide if the Florida Constitution should be amended to include a prohibition on drilling for oil or natural gas off Florida's coast.
Send a clear message to the oil industry of what Florida residents think about proposals to open more areas off our coast to oil drilling. The amendment takes the decision away from the oil executives and places it with the people of Florida.
Preserves our beaches and coast by reducing the chance that the pollution associated with drilling will destroy Florida's pristine coastline.