Shore birds walk near containment booms used to protect beaches in Pensacola Bay, Fla., from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in June 2010. (Credit: CNS photo/Colin Hackley, Reuters.)

Faith community joins Florida congressman in opposing offshore drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Francis Rooney, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, cautioned that offshore drilling for oil in Florida’s coastal waters would endanger the state’s tourism-based economy should a major spill occur.

The Republican congressman from Florida also said during a midday roundtable discussion sponsored by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment on Capitol Hill Feb. 27 that steps must be taken to reduce dependence on fossil fuels because their continued use damages the environment and contributes to climate change.

“Offshore drilling is a real problem for people in Florida, particularly the west coast. The east coast not so much because the Gulf Stream kind of makes it impossible to do much of it,” Rooney said.

“But where we are (along Florida’s southwest coast) … we are at severe risk to our economy should there be a spill or should there be infrastructure put in place to ensure the support of massive offshore drilling operations, because when you have a lot of wells, you have pipelines,” Rooney said.

The hourlong program, which occurred in two segments, focused on how the faith community can respond to a plan introduced 13 months ago by President Donald Trump’s administration to open nearly all U.S. coastal waters to oil and natural gas drilling. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott, now a Republican senator in Congress, was able to secure an exemption from drilling along the state’s unspoiled coasts.

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