WASHINGTON - The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today announced that Rep. Michael Bilirakis (FL-9) has joined Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Katherine Harris (FL-13) as a member of the "Florida Varsity Flip-Flop Team" with his reversal on offshore oil drilling. In the past, Rep. Bilirakis has opposed drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, but now he is helping lead congressional negotiations that would "allow drilling at 100 to 125 miles off Florida's coasts, almost 300 miles closer to Florida than current laws permit." ("Drilling for Gulf Oil Gains Support," St. Petersburg Times, 9/16/05; Lawmaker's oil fantasy a nightmare for Florida, Palm Beach Post Editorial, 9/27/05)
"The flip-flops keep coming with Rep. Bilirakis joining the team," said LCV FL Campaign Manager Shirin Bidel-Niyat. "It appears that Rep. Bilirakis would rather side with Big Oil, Gov. Bush and anti-environmental legislators in Congress who want to erect drilling rigs off the state's coast, than the majority of Floridians who want to protect their beaches and coastal communities from the threat of an oil spill."
In the coming weeks, the House may consider legislation to allow for drilling 125 miles from Florida's coasts, including in areas of the Eastern Gulf where in the past there has been bipartisan support from members of the Florida congressional delegation to block drilling.
Last week, LCV announced the "Florida Varsity Flip-Flop Team" with its founding members, Rep. Katherine Harris and Gov. Jeb Bush. Both have made inconsistent statements regarding offshore drilling in the past few months. In Rep. Harris' case, she has also cast conflicting votes on energy legislation promoting drilling in Florida waters.