U.S. Representatives from Florida are pushing to extend a ban on oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The new restriction was added to a Department of the Interior appropriations bill this week. That bill is pending in the House.
The current ban is set to expire in 2022, but this move would block drilling in that area four more years.
Republican Congressman David Jolly represents Pinellas County. He’s a sponsor of the extension. Jolly said this piece of legislation continues the work done by his predecessor, Congressman C.W. Bill Young.
Jolly wants to guard Florida’s ecosystems along the coast, and the tourism industry those beaches attract.
"This ban helps protect both the environment as well as our local economies up and down the coast of Florida," said Jolly.
Opponents of the ban say oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico could actually strengthen the country’s economy and create jobs.
Representative Jolly expects the appropriations bill-- that includes the extension-- to pass in the House later this week.
The U.S. Senate must also work out its own appropriations bill. Congress has until October to agree on a final version.