Offshore drilling and Vaping, the two things are completely different but on November 6th– a vote for one, could mean opposition to the other.
The two items both appear under Amendment 9 on the upcoming general election ballot in what is called a bundled proposal but pairing the two topics can be confusing to voters.
Vaping and offshore drilling, what do they have in common? They’re both bundled in Amendment 9 under the measures of cleaner air and water. Voting yes on this amendment will ban vaping in workplaces and offshore drilling.
“It’s crazy, these should be separate issues. These are big issues, especially the offshore drilling,” said Panama City Resident, David Runyan. Those in favor and those opposed to offshore drilling agree the amendment is confusing in nature but said there are other issues with the proposal.
Those in favor of drilling said the addition of it to the constitution is redundant because there is already a law in place in regards to drilling in state waters. “It is currently in state statue and has been a prohibition against exploration in state waters. It’s been in place for the last 30 years and certainly that’s sufficient in it’s own light so the redundancy nature is why some people are opposing the measure,” said Florida Petroleum Council Director, David Mica.
Mica is referring to state statue 377.24 that states drilling within the boundaries of Florida’s territorial seas isn’t allowed. This statue has been around since the late 80’s. He said he’s in favor of reasonable exploration that’s environmentally responsible, but doesn’t agree it needs to be in the state constitution.
Mica explains that should there be an emergency and the need to drill in state waters, it would require much more work to complete that task once written into the constitution as opposed to the current state statue.
“We don’t think the amendment is a good idea. The nature of taking the time to change the constitution is not a short type of thing,” said Mica.
Environmental groups said this is a step in the right direction, but think drilling needs to be banned anywhere near the Florida coastline, not just state waters but also surrounding federal waters.
Erin Handy with Oceana, a non-profit focused on the preservation of the environment, said people should vote yes on this Amendment, but following the vote, should press government officials for more action to be taken.
Handy remembers the tragedy that can follow an offshore drilling error and references the BP deep sea horizons oil spill that happened back in 2010, killing 11 and injuring 17, but also significantly impacting sea life and the health of the Gulf waters.
“It’s only in Florida state waters which is 3 miles off the Atlantic coast and 9 miles off the Gulf Coast. The deep water horizon rig that exploded in Louisiana state waters was over 200 miles away from the Florida coast and yet, the oil still reached,” said Oceana Field Campaign Manager, Erin Handy.
Offshore drilling is an important issue to many Floridians. We reached out to the offices of Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis, both candidates for Florida governor, regarding their stance on offshore drilling.
We have not yet received a response ack from Gillum, but DeSantis has responded with a statement.
“I am committed to keeping any and all offshore oil drilling out of Florida. Starting on day one, I will work to protect our environment, clean up our waterways and stop the spread of toxic algae, find solutions to the red tide, and keep our state beautiful for generations to come,” said Ron DeSantis.
On the second half of the Amendment, is the topic of vaping. Voting yes on the amendment would ban vaping in enclosed work spaces and add e-cigarettes and vaping devices to the list of prohibited tobacco products.
Local vape shops said they are not in favor of the amendment and plan to vote no. While they said they are not in favor, they also stated they are not worried about this amendment and find it odd that it is even on the ballot and paired with offshore drilling.