It’s good to have a reason to celebrate.
The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act (H.R. 205) bill introduced by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) secured bipartisan support in the House of Representatives to permanently ban offshore oil and gas development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Although this bill still has a long way to go, it gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction.
At a time when it seems we are in pitched wars of us versus them, I am heartened to see decision-makers in D.C. push politics aside in favor of protecting one of our greatest natural resources from reckless oil and gas drilling.
It’s a sweet note to end on.
Today, I am wrapping up my last week at Ocean Conservancy’s Gulf Restoration Program. Since 2010, I have worked to restore the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy defined our region as the site of one of the biggest environmental disasters in recent times.
In my role as director of the program, I was proud that Ocean Conservancy joined the people of the Gulf to strongly oppose the wholesale expansion of oil and gas development in the Eastern Gulf. A majority of Floridians feel the same way—they voted by a huge margin to prohibit drilling in Florida state waters nine miles from shore.
Our waters are critical to the region’s fishing and tourism industries, which were resilient after the BP oil disaster, and face so many challenges ahead. I am hopeful that this bill will be a game-changer for the future of the eastern and deep Gulf ecosystems.
If H.R. 205 passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, the bill will permanently extend the protections already in place through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act to prevent drilling along and offshore from the Florida coast. The bill would also reestablish safety regulations put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that the Trump administration has since weakened.
Having lived and traveled all across this beautiful region, I have had the pleasure of working with people from all political affiliations that love and care for the places they call home.
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Our Gulf of Mexico is a special place.
We are more than an oil spill or a hurricane. The Gulf is resilient. It is an assemblage of many different cultures, a vastly productive blue economy built on our ocean and awe-inspiring works of nature.
This latest effort to protect the Eastern Gulf from offshore drilling and establish permanent safety regulations is a step in the right direction and a reflection of what so many people living and working here know is true. Unchecked oil and gas development is not worth risking our beautiful beaches, bountiful waters and a way of life anchored to the ecosystem.
I am leaving Ocean Conservancy but protecting our Gulf will continue to be part of my life’s work. Thank you for being part of restoring a resilient Gulf of Mexico.
You can stay in touch with me on Twitter: @hagfishfan.