Republicans: Restore Protection of Critical Military Region

Republicans are attempting to restore safeguards for Florida’s Gulf Test Range in the Gulf of Mexico. These were eliminated as part of the $749 billion Inflation Reduction Act enacted by Democrats.

The Area is Crucial for U.S. Military

The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, approved by Congress in 2006, forbade oil and gas extraction and research east of the Military Mission Line in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. This was one of the most crucial test and training facilities for the U.S. military.

These safeguards were expanded in 2020 under the Trump administration, barring underwater test range areas from consideration for energy production or leasing.

Republican lawmakers wrote on October 17 that this insured the area would “proceed to fulfill U.S. national security needs.”

The Eastern Gulf of Mexico is cited as an “irreplaceable national asset” in a report from fiscal year 2018 that was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Rep. Mike Waltz of Florida, along with 13 other Republican lawmakers, all endorsed the letter.

The letter was sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“We must reimpose the ban on energy leases and production in the Gulf of Mexico east of the Military Mission Line.”

“In order to safeguard our military assets, we introduced a bill and will work to get language protecting it included in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act,” according to the letter.

S.4943, also known as the “Preserving the Gulf Test Range to Ensure Military Readiness Act,” was presented by Senator Rubio on September 22.

The measure aims to assure, when it is enacted, the secretary of the interior will not, until June 30, 2032, rent, release, or permit any similar activities for energy production in the Military Mission Line or any of the region’s designated outer continental shelf zones.

West of the Military Mission Line, the Straits of Florida Planning Area, and the South Atlantic Planning Area will be included in the outer continental shelf zones.

Waltz noted the Department of Defense uses the Gulf Test Range to evaluate and develop weapons including hypersonic missiles in a press statement on September 22.

Impeding Preparedness

“Leasing water right off the coast of Florida for power generation would substantially impede our country’s preparedness and ability to prevent acts of aggression,” Waltz said.

“Our enemies, like China, invest billions of dollars to upgrade and ramp up their military assets.”

The Biden administration has pushed for the implementation of wind farms as part of its effort to convince the nation to switch to green energy.

President Biden stated on July 20 that the administration started the process of creating wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico.

In order to expeditiously bring these renewable energy initiatives online, Biden added, “I’ve instructed my administration to overcome every regulatory obstacle and simplify federal permitting.”