House Republicans — including Florida GOP lawmakers Allen West, Vern Buchanan, David Rivera, Tom Rooney, Steve Southerland, and C.W. Bill Young — voted against a measure that would have prevented oil and gas exploration in the Great Lakes and the Florida Everglades.
The measure was part of a plan to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline and expand offshore drilling and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A motion introduced yesterday would have required the bill be reported back to the House with an amendment to “restrict permits for new oil and gas slant, directional, or offshore drilling around the Great Lakes or the Florida Everglades.”
That motion was shot down in a largely party-line vote (232 Republicans and nine Democrats voted against it) of 241-176.
“The treasured Everglades that are key to Florida’s tourism, economic success, and way of life would be ruined by oil rigs if Rep. Allen West gets his way,” said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a press release about the vote. “West will stop at nothing to protect Oil corporations and is showing reckless disregard for everyone who depends on the Everglades for tourism and the tens of thousands people who count on this natural resource for jobs.”
In August, then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann caught heat for remarks she made supporting drilling for oil in the Everglades. “The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness,” she told the Associated Press. “Whether that is in the Everglades … we need to go where the energy is.” She later elaborated on her comments, arguing that those who oppose the idea are likely just “radical environmentalists.”
At the time, Rep. West reprimanded the Minnesota congresswoman for her comment, promising to “straighten her out” for what he called an “incredible faux pas.”
Environmentalists have argued that opening the Everglades to oil drilling would likely see resistance from more than just “radical environmentalists.”
“NRA card-carrying hunters, fishermen, waterfowlers and other outdoors enthusiasts do not want to see oil drilling in their Everglades wildlife paradise,” said Everglades Foundation CEO Kirk Fordham, in a statement to the Independent in August. “In addition, the Everglades is the source of fresh, clean, drinking water for more than 7 million Floridians.”