David Jolly, Gwen Graham cosponsor extension on Gulf drilling ban


Back when David Jolly was running for Congress in a special election against Alex Sink, groups opposing him tried to paint him as pro-drilling, an accusation he passionately denied. Over a year later, the Congressman has demonstrated that he really doesn't like the idea of offshore oil drilling, at least not around here.

On Thursday, the Indian Shores Republican cosponsored a bill that would extend the current drilling moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico beyond its current sunset in the year 2022 by five years. Called the Preserving Florida's Coastal Communities Act, the ban would continue to cover some 125 miles out in some areas and up to 235 in others.

“It is paramount that we take steps to continue protecting our pristine beaches, our fisheries, our marine sanctuaries, and coastal communities from the impact of drilling in the eastern Gulf and devastating events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010," he said in a written statement. "An oil spill off the Coast of Pinellas County would be disastrous to our quality of life and our local economy. We must ensure that we do not put our Gulf Coast at greater risk by drilling closer to our shores.”

The bill's cosponsor was Rep. Gwen Graham, a Democrat from the Panhandle, an area with an intimate familiarity with the perils of coastal offshore drilling.

“The Panhandle knows all too well the devastating effects an oil spill can have on our state,” Graham said in a written statement. “Keeping our Gulf waters and beaches free from drilling is vital to protecting our environment, our economy and the military in Northwest Florida.”

Last month, Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson introduced a similar bill in the Senate as a way to shut down an attempt by some lawmakers to end the ban.

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio said they are more or less open to drilling in the gulf, and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has said nothing.

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