Partisan Split in Florida Delegation Allows Congress to Move Closer to Opening Florida's Gulf Coast to Drilling Only Fifty Miles from Beaches
On June 19, Congress fast-tracked legislation to allow drilling 100 miles from Florida's Gulf Coast Beaches - and as close as only 50 miles in some circumstances. Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa) was quick to criticize the deal being spearheaded by California Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Stockton). Other members of Florida's delegation were quiet - including veteran Congressman Clay Shaw (R-Fort Lauderdale).
In the past, Florida's congressional delegation has formed a united front against drilling closer to Florida's beaches, but this latest effort has split the delegation along party lines, with all but one Republican negotiating with Pombo and other drilling supporters to allow drilling closer to the shore. Last month, legislation that would have allowed drilling as close as nine miles from Gulf Coast beaches was narrowly defeated in the House by a vote 217-203.