U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. House Ways and Means and the Budget Committees, said on Tuesday that he opposes a decision from U.S. Interior Department to change safety rules about offshore drilling.
Buchanan said he was backing a proposal from U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-Calif., which would "codify in law the Oil and Gas Production Safety Systems rule as well as the Well Control rule, which was implemented after the fatal 2010 disaster based on recommendations by a bipartisan national commission.”
“It would be a monumental mistake to lift these safeguards,” said Buchanan on Tuesday. “The last thing we need after suffering through the devastating impact of red tide is to open the door to another catastrophic oil spill.
“We don’t need to risk another massive oil spill that could cause irreparable harm to Florida’s economy and environment,” Buchanan added. “We need to protect the pristine ocean waters off Florida’s coasts.”
Since introducing the bill in January, Diaz Barragan has rounded up more than 60 cosponsors including Florida Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Alcee Hastings, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
Buchanan has been active on the matter in recent years, writing to the Interior Department about it in January and urging the Trump administration not to open the Gulf up for new drilling.
This week, Buchanan scoffed at claims that the safeguards added by the Obama administration burdened the oil industry.
“If these safeguards are so burdensome then why is the oil industry enjoying record profits?” Buchanan asked. “The U.S. is currently producing over 11 million barrels of oil per day – a level we have not reached since the 1970s, rivaling the world’s top producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“My constituents were severely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon spill, and we strongly oppose any effort to weaken these common-sense regulations that protect against another oil spill off the coast of Florida,” he added.