Boyd to Pentagon: Stay strong against drilling.
Rep. Allen Boyd, a Democrat from North Florida, and the Bay Defense Alliance today joined forces by calling on the Pentagon to continue to keep off-shore oil and gas interests out of its vast training area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Under a 2006 law, everything east of the Military Mission Line, which runs from near Pensacola to the Keys, is off-limit to oil rigs, thanks to its status as an important training area for the Navy and Air Force.
But the Pentagon is reviewing its policy and several lawmakers say they believe the military will soften its stance against allowing drilling closer to Florida's shores. That would rob Florida lawmakers of a powerful argument in their effort to keep oil and gas exploration far off-shore.
The Bay Defense Alliance is a private, non-profit group that looks out for military interests in the Panama City area, home to Tyndall Air Force Base.
"Tyndall Air Force Base and the Navy base play important roles in protecting our national security interests, while also making enormous contributions to the local economy, and the testing range in the Gulf is a valuable component of these bases," Boyd said in a statement. "We must increase domestic drilling to help combat high gas prices, but drilling in a critical military training area - in fact, our nation's only open air-to-air missile testing range - is not the place to do it."