Nelson’s bill would bar seismic activity off entire Florida coast

Saying that it puts him at odds with the Obama administration, US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced legislation on Apr. 30 that would prohibit oil and gas seismic activity off Florida’s entire coast.

S. 1171 would ban such activities in the area until the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator determined that “reasonably foreseeable impacts” of such activities to individuals and marine life are minimal.

Nelson said he drafted the bill after the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a final programmatic environmental impact statement for proposed geologic and geophysical activities along the South and Mid-Atlantic US Outer Continental Shelf in February.

“Drilling off Florida’s Atlantic coast would be unwise and impractical,” Nelson said on May 1. “It would interfere with military operations off of Jacksonville, and rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force Base, not to mention the environmental hazards it would pose. If you’re not going to drill there, then why do the seismic testing?”

A moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing off Florida’s Gulf Coast through 2022 was included in the 2006 Energy Independence and Security Act, the senator said. One is not in place for the state’s Atlantic coast where communities economically rely on recreation and tourism, he noted.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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