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Waltz, Rubio Introduce Bill to Protect Florida’s Waters and Gulf Test Range

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) joined U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and members of the Florida Congressional Delegation in introducing the “Preserving the Gulf Test Range to Ensure Military Readiness Act” that would prevent energy exploration and development that would jeopardize the Gulf Test Range.

“The Gulf Test Range is an irreplaceable national asset for our country’s defense infrastructure,” said Waltz. “The Department of Defense uses this area to test and develop our military’s weapons, such as hypersonic missiles, and advance our military’s capabilities in the air and on water. As our adversaries, like China, spend billions of dollars to modernize and build up their military capabilities, leasing water just off the coast of Florida for energy development would greatly hinder our country’s readiness and ability to deter military aggression.”

In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which prohibited oil and gas exploration development, among other places, east of the Military Mission Line.

In 2020, President Trump extended the protections for the Gulf Test Range by using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. However, buried in the Democrats’ $749 billion reckless climate and tax bill was a provision to strip those protections and open the door to the construction of offshore wind turbines in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

“Any form of energy exploration or development in this critical area would jeopardize our national security and undermine our military readiness,” said Senator Rubio. “Protecting Florida’s unique coasts and vital military assets has long been a priority of mine. We made great progress during the Trump Administration, but Democrats undid our good work. This bill would restore protection to Florida’s Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”

“President Trump understood the importance of protecting the Gulf Test Range and preserving Florida’s coast and waters,” said Waltz. “But now, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats are stripping the protections President Trump put in place, opening the door for offshore wind development just off the coast of Florida. Not only will this jeopardize our national security, but it will forever alter Florida’s waters. We must protect the Gulf Test Range.”

The Preserving the Gulf Test Range to Ensure Military Readiness Act is cosponsored by Reps. Brian Mast (FL-18), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Mario Daiz-Balart (FL-25), Bill Posey (FL-08), Byron Donalds (FL-19), Neal Dunn (FL-02), Carlos Gimenz (FL-26), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), John Rutherford (FL-04), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Kat Cammack (FL-03), Scott Franklin (FL-15), and Daniel Webster (FL-11), as well as Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).