Tag Archives: constitution

Time for Florida’s Constitution to Say “No” to Coastal Oil and Gas Drilling

A bird covered in oil after the Deep Water Horizon explosion, 2010. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.
Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of Associated Press,  2010.

When I moved to Pensacola Beach, Florida to teach high school in the early 1990s, I was surprised to see that the local community was marching in the streets protesting oil drilling. “Lucky we don’t have to do that in South Florida,” I thought. Here it is over 25 years later, and I am writing about why the Florida Constitution should say “no” to oil and gas drilling off all Florida beaches.

The final Constitution Revision Commission (CRC: http://flcrc.gov) proposal I am sponsoring is #91: “A proposal to amend Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction in specified coastal waters.”

This proposal came to my attention through Mr Manley Fuller, the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, and well-known Tallahassee attorneys Patsy Palmer and Sandy D’Alemberte. This once “citizen initiative” was filed with the Secretary of State and supporters had begun to collect signatures.

As you may know, in Florida, one way the public has a right to propose amendments to Florida’s Constitution is through a citizen initiative petition process. The process is very expensive and incredibly arduous. Some, over time, are successful.

What I have learned in my time, this year, serving as a Constitution Revision Commissioner is that the five different ways an idea can get into the constitution are all connected. (The 5 ways: http://www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/ConstAmends.pdf)

For instance, an idea may start in the legislature and fail; so someone turns it into a citizens initiative years later, and that may not get all the signatures it needs; so the CRC rolls around and someone like me picks it again! And so on…Getting changes into Florida’s constitution is a “process.” If the idea has importance for voters, it’s about keeping the ball  in the air!

With the possibility of the federal government getting closer and closer to opening oil drilling off all Florida, and every newspaper writing about this in the state, we must be aware that some members of our State Legislature have forgotten or were not here for the Deep Water Horizon disaster. They see oil and gas drilling as a positive.  The time is now for Florida voters to make a constitutional statement that it is not.

http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/06/06/should-the-government-allow-seismic-testing-for-oil-deposits-off-floridas-atlantic-coast/

Before I close, Let’s ask ourselves: how do drilling rights work anyway?

Oil drilling leases are complicated and they involve all levels of government. The Federal Government’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act  govern federal jurisdiction over submerged lands on the Outer Shelf.  However, the Submerged Lands Act of 1953 grants individual States rights to the natural resources of submerged lands from the coastline to no more thane 3 nautical miles. Florida, though, due to foresight those before us, is an exception.  Our boarders are defined in our state constitution in Article 11 Section 1, to include the eastern edge of the ever-moving Gulf Stream, or three miles off, what ever is further, and 3 marine leagues into the Gulf of Mexico (almost 10 miles). This is much more than most states get! Voters could make this language even stronger.

As always it will be a balance, a fight, between powers, but having a strong Florida Constitution will help tremendously in holding our own. As a peninsula at sea surrounded by beaches that bring in billions of dollars, and define the mystique of the state, oil and gas drilling is not a benefit here. The risk it too high; it’s simply is not worth it.

“No” to Coastal Oil & Gas Drilling”  #91: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0091

       CRC - 2017                                                  P 91



       By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch

       thurlowlj-00106-17                                      201791__
    1                         A proposal to amend
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         prohibit oil drilling for exploration and extraction
    4         in specified coastal waters.
    5
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    8
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection
   24  Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) To protect the people of Florida and their environment,
   27  oil drilling for exploration or extraction is prohibited in and
   28  beneath all state waters between the mean high tide line and the
   29  outermost boundaries of the state’s territorial seas. This
   30  prohibition does not apply to the transportation of oil and gas
   31  products produced outside of such waters. This section is self
   32  executing.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner. This proposal has not been referred to a committee yet, but you can support is by writing any of the commissioners, especially the Chair, here: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

In this file photo made June 3, 2010, a brown pelican covered in oil sits on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Florida’s Outer Continental Shelf: https://www.boem.gov/Outer-Continental-Shelf/

Florida Senate Legal Issue and State Authority Related to Territorial Waters: http://archive.flsenate.gov/data/Publications/2008/Senate/reports/interim_reports/pdf/2008-142ju.pdf

Pensacola News Journal 2017: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2017/10/19/dont-open-eastern-gulf-mexico-offshore-drilling-guestview/780605001/

Panama City: http://www.newsherald.com/news/20170816/our-view-deadline-for-comment-on-drilling-is-now

Tampa Bay Times: http://web.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/trumps-executive-order-on-offshore-oil-drilling-sets-up-clash-with-florida/2322047

Miami Herald: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article147492219.html

* As of 11-20-17: This proposal has not yet been referred to a committee/s; it should be within a few weeks: http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC, SLR/IRL

Indian River Lagoon, John Whiticar

Part #4 in a series about the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and how to get involved, by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Environmental Provisions in Florida’s State Constitution/Getting Your Issues in Front of the CRC (https://www.flcrc.gov)
The Florida constitution….(http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3)

It is amazing to realize how much of the Florida Constitution ensures protections of the environment, and yet we see the continued degradation of the natural resources of our state. It’s time we learn our constitution by heart, make sure it’s followed, and take action to see if something need be added.

Today, I am going to list the areas of the constitution that have to do with the environment for easy reference. You can click the links below to see the full amendments.

In 1968, “ardent environmentalist” and respected state representative, John Robert Middlemas, of Panama City, insisted that words of support for environmental policy were placed in the historic constitutional revision that same year.

In his honor, I ask that all fellow environmentalists review below, and ask oneself how to make these words take on a new sense of urgency as our springs, rivers, and natural lands need our voice. At the end of this article, and after reviewing our state constitution, if so inspired, please feel free to enter your own constitutional proposal or improve one that’s simply being ignored.

The CRC is considering September 22nd as the deadline for public proposals so please submit soon!

As an aside, it is my honor to serve as the Chair of the CRC’s General Provisions Committee, which is charged with examining Article II of the Florida Constitution. If you have comments or thoughts regarding Article II (or other provisions relating to the environment), please email me at Jacqui.Lippisch@flcrc.gov.

Here is the list of current environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution:

 

  • General Provisions (Article II): Section 7, Natural Resources & Scenic Beauty/Everglades Agricultural Area
  • Executive (Article IV): Section 4 (f), cabinet/Internal Improvement Fund/Land Acquisition Trust Fund; Section 9, Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Finance and Taxation (Article VII): Section 3 (f), conservation easements/ taxes -exemptions; Section 4 (b) taxation-assessments ; Section 9 (a), special districts/water management; Section 11 (e) state/revenue bonds; Section (14) bonds-pollution control
  • Miscellaneous (Article X): Section 11, sovereignty lands; Section 16, limiting marine net fishing; Section 17, Everglades Trust Fund; Section 18, disposition of conservation lands; Section 28, Land Acquisition Trust Fund, (Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, 2014.)

  To enter your own proposal or idea regarding the environment:

                 

Adams Ranch, Bud Adams/Photographer
  • Go to gov/Proposals/Submit to create a free account and submit your proposed change to the Florida constitution. The online tool allows you to create your proposal using legal language by redacting or adding language. Remember to keep it simple and clear.

 

  • Using the same program, submit your proposal to the Constitution Revision Commission and sign up for the alert emails. Commissioners will review proposals and determine which proposals should be placed on Florida’s 2018 General Election ballot.

 

*Proposals can also be emailed to the commission at admin@flcrc.gov, or sent in the mail to: Constitution Revision Commission, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399. Thank you so much for conserving and protecting the great state of Florida!

Manatee, Paul Nicklen, King’s Bay, FL
Mangroves, John Whiticar
Kids swimming/Florida springs, John Moran
Blue Springs, Madison, FL Sandra Henderson Thurlow
We especially must conserve and protect our environment for the future! (My niece, Evie, co-founder of River Kidz http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/ photo, Jenny Flaugh)