Florida voters today adopted an amendment to the state constitution that prohibits oil drilling in the state’s territorial sea. As a result, drilling for oil or gas is now permanently prohibited within 10.5 miles of the Gulf Coast and 3.5 miles of the Atlantic Coast. The amendment was initially proposed by Florida Wildlife Federation as a voter initiative and then revised and presented to the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission.
This amendment was proposed by Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) and presented to the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission under the leadership of Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, who now serves on the FWF board. Our congratulations go to Ms. Thurlow-Lippisch and all who worked so diligently for passage!
Because of its experience with attempts by the Florida government to evade other constitutional amendments, the Federation took steps to anticipate possible litigation. The amendment was reviewed by legal experts and was written so it could be fully enforced without any legislation or implementing rules. Each term of the amendment was chosen because it has an established legal definition under both state and federal law, and all prior state conveyances of submerged coastal lands were reviewed to anticipate and avoid any possible future litigation over the geographic reach of the drilling prohibition.
The proposed state constitutional amendment drew little attention when it was initially presented to the state Constitutional Revision Commission early this year, but it quickly gathered momentum as allies joined the effort and both gubernatorial candidates campaigned against off-shore oil drilling. Nonetheless, the Commission attempted to cloud the issue by combining the drilling ban proposal with a proposal to prohibit vaping in public places and by attaching a ballot summary that suggested it would not be fully effective to ban off-shore drilling.
The amendment appears to have passed by a 68.8 percent vote, almost 9 percent more than the 60 percent needed for passage. It will be enshrined as Article II, section 7(c) of the Florida Constitution.