TAMPA (WFLA) – Two Tampa Bay lawmakers have reintroduced a bill to permanently ban drilling off Florida coastlines.

Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota and Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa have re-introduced the Florida Coastal Protection Act to permanently extend the drilling ban off the Florida coastlines. The current moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico expires in 2022.

“The fatal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and massive spill into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was one of the worst environmental disasters in history,” Buchanan said. “We can’t risk another spill that would threaten our economy, our environment and our way of life.”

“Here in the Sunshine State, our natural resources and beautiful beaches are central to our way of life and the cornerstone of our economy. We have seen the devastating impacts of oil and gas drilling off of our shores, and are coming together, Democrats and Republicans, to once again introduce legislation to make protect our coast – permanently,” Castor said.

The moratorium currently in place protects waters up to 235 miles off the west coast of Florida from oil drilling. The bill was introduced in the last session of Congress but did not receive a vote.

Buchanan said Southwest Florida has been plagued by red tide for the past few years and doesn’t need the added threat of an oil spill.

“This naturally occurring harmful algal bloom has had a very damaging impact,” Buchanan said. “It would be a huge mistake to allow drilling and be forced to confront another catastrophic spill.”

Castor had previously introduced a similar bill back in 2019 which had faced an uphill battle in the previously Republican-controlled Senate and from President Trump who promised to veto similar bills.