U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today said in Tallahassee he will filibuster if necessary to block an energy bill that contains a provision that would allow oil drilling within 10 miles of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coastline.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last week created what Nelson called a “ruckus” by adding the provision to a federal energy bill to allow drilling, which Nelson says threatens Florida’s beaches and its tourism economy and military aircraft training missions in the Gulf.
“You see this puts Senator Martinez (R-Fla.) and me in the position we will simply not allow this to occur,” Nelson, D-Fla., told reporters in his Tallahassee office. “We will use and I will use every parliamentary tool available to me to grind the Senate to a halt if I have to.”
Nelson said he had supported the energy bill because it will help produce alternative energy sources. But he said the proposed drilling provision violates a 2005 compromise law that prohibited drilling within 100 miles of Pensacola, 237 miles from Tampa Bay and 300 miles from Naples.
“We don’t want to jeopardize the energy bill,” Nelson said. “But when you threaten national security and the economy of Florida we have no choice — we are going to stop it.”
Outside the federal Courthouse in Tallahassee, attorney Pace Allen and geologist Mitch Covington argued that oil drilling and production could be done without threatening Florida’s environment or the military missions.
“If we drill here safely and cleanly we won’t depend on the dirty oil drilling in other countries where they don’t care about spillage,” Covington said.