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Oil drilling ban in eastern gulf is shot down

Reps. Kathy Castor and Francis Rooney pushed bipartisan ban.

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan Florida effort to permanently ban oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico has been blocked from consideration.

"House Republicans blocked my bipartisan amendment to ban oil drilling off the coast of Florida late last night – meaning they will not allow a vote at all," said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who teamed up with Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples.

They sought to attach the amendment to the defense authorization bill, and saw leverage in a new Defense Department report that questioned the impact of drilling activity with military missions in the area.

"The environmental and economic reasons not to drill are paramount, but DOD gives our argument greater urgency," Castor said. "The only way to fully ensure the readiness of our military and protect Florida's economy and environment is to extend the moratorium permanently.

"Despite recent declarations by Interior Secretary Zinke and Governor Rick Scott, they did nothing to press Speaker Ryan and House Republicans to allow a vote and end the push to drill once and for all. Their election year conversion on offshore drilling has been interesting but shallow. We are not going to give up, however, and I thank U.S. Rep. Rooney for his consistent leadership."