Washington, D.C. — Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, R-Clermont, joined U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL) in urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to prohibit energy exploration and development east of the Military Mission Line in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
 
Florida’s Gulf Test Range, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is a vital testing and training area for the United States Military. The Gulf Test Range has been protected by policies and regulations since 1983, with Congress codifying protections in 2006.
 
“We write with the gravest possible concern about the national security implications of allowing offshore energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM),” the lawmakers wrote. “In 2020, President Trump extended the protections for the Gulf Test Range…, providing certainty that the range would continue to serve U.S. national security needs. Unfortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act stripped that protection and opens the door to offshore wind development in the Gulf Test Range.”

 
U.S. Representatives Scott Franklin (R-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Carlos Giménez (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Mario Díaz Balart (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), María Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Kat Cammack (R-FL) also signed the letter.
 
 
The full text of the letter is below. 
 
Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Republican Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:
 
We write with the gravest possible concern about the national security implications of allowing offshore energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (EGOM). In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) which prohibited oil and gas exploration and development, among other places, east of the Military Mission Line in the EGOM. In 2020, President Trump extended the protections for the Gulf Test Range by using his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to withdraw the submerged lands of the test range from consideration for energy leasing or development, providing certainty that the range would continue to serve U.S. national security needs. Unfortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act stripped that protection and opens the door to offshore wind development in the Gulf Test Range.
 
Energy development in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would catastrophically jeopardize the Gulf Test Range, which is crucial to our readiness for a fight in the Indo-Pacific. According to a report required by the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act:
 
           The eastern Gulf of Mexico is an irreplaceable national asset… the unique capabilities present in the region have been developed over decades through the investment of billions of taxpayer dollars and countless hours of effort by federal, state, and private organizations and local citizens. No other area in the world provides the U.S. military with ready access to a highly instrumented, network-connected, surrogate environment for military operations in the… Indo-Pacific Theater. … No other area offers the DoD a comparable combination of air space, water space, and existing infrastructure to support military activities.
 
In discussions with experts in the Air Force on what allowing wind development in the Gulf Test Range would do to our testing capabilities, one individual stated that this was a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation.” The immediate and long-lasting national security impact of allowing exploration and development of wind energy inside the Gulf Test Range demands immediate Congressional action to protect the Gulf Test Range.
 
We must reinstate the moratorium on energy leasing and development east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico. As such, we introduced legislation and will seek to include language to protect our military asset in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. We urge you to join us in protecting the critical capabilities the Gulf Test Range provides.                    
 
Sincerely,
 
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