Oil drilling prohibited in Florida waters

Hands Across the Sand oil protest
Two months before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, protestors drew a line in the sand against oil drilling on Anna Maria Island’s beaches. - Cindy Lane | Sun

Floridians voted to prohibit oil drilling in state waters today, passing Florida Constitutional Amendment 9 by 69 percent.

Manatee County voters followed suit, approving the amendment by 69.44 percent.

It takes 60 percent of voters to approve a state constitutional amendment.

The proposal will prohibit drilling for exploration or extraction of oil or natural gas beneath all state waters between the mean high-water line and the outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas, about nine miles off the western and southern coastlines in the Gulf of Mexico and at least three miles off the eastern coastline in the Atlantic Ocean.

Drilling in federal waters is not affected.

The measure also prohibits the use of vapor-generating electronic devices in enclosed indoor workplaces.

The Florida Supreme Court placed the amendment back on the ballot shortly before the election after a Leon County Circuit judge removed it and two others from the ballot for combining unrelated issues in single proposed amendments.

In its Oct. 17 opinion, the state’s high court ruled that the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) can include multiple issues in single amendments, but three justices criticized the practice.

“When amending our Florida Constitution, voters should not be forced to vote ‘yes’ on a proposal they disfavor in order to also vote ‘yes’ on a proposal they support because of how the Constitution Revision Commission has unilaterally decided to bundle multiple, independent and unrelated proposals,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote.

The amendment was supported by the League of Women Voters, Florida Wildlife Federation, Gulf Restoration Network, American Cancer Society, Florida Policy Institute, Progress Florida, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Earthjustice.

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