"If we don't act, drilling rigs could soon appear off our beaches," said Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., the lead sponsor of the bicoastal drilling ban. Cunningham won his seat last year in part because of his opposition to drilling off South Carolina's beach-dominated coast.
"The Low Country (near Charleston, S.C.) is a force to be reckoned with, and we stand firm in our opposition to drilling off our shoreline," Cunningham said. Offshore drilling could ruin the state's tourism-based economy, "ruin our vibrant natural resources" and harm the state's "unique way of life," he said.
"Drilling off the coast of Florida would create an industrial coastline less appealing to visitors, hinder our military readiness and adversely affect our environment," said Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., co-sponsor of the Florida bill, which extends a moratorium set to expire in 2022.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, denounced the "liberal legislation aimed at derailing our domestic energy production and strong economy." The House-passed bill would stifle development of the nation's abundant fossil-fuel resources, increase reliance on foreign countries and "jeopardize unprecedented economic growth seen in recent years," Bishop said.