Florida Democrats have sent letters to President Barack Obama, protesting his plans to expand oil and gas drilling as close as 125 miles off Florida's coast.
U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown wrote to Obama Tuesday, asking for a meeting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and presidential advisor Carol Browner, a Florida native who last week said the 125-mile proposed buffer should keep Florida protected.
"The threat your plan poses to Florida's economy is a real worry," the three wrote. "The coasts of Florida play an important role in sustaining the tourism and fishing industries so vital to the state's economy."
The letter comes a day after Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor wrote to Obama, noting that as Salazar himself put it, "there are some places in our country that are too special to drill. Florida's coastline certainly fits that description."
Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for the White House said that "after more than a year of review, including in depth consultations with experts and leaders including the Florida delegation, the President and Secretary Salazar announced a responsible plan that will protect areas vital to tourism, the environment and our national security while expanding offshore oil and gas exploration."
She said the administration is reviewing the letters "and will ensure input from Members of Congress is heard."
Under the proposal unveiled last week by Obama and Salazar, oil and gas exploration would be allowed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles off Florida's west coast. On the Atlantic side, the Outer Continental Shelf from Delaware to Central Florida would be open to drilling, but only after feasibility studies are done.
Castor asked Obama to revisit "the science that has pointed to serious harm in the event of a spill or leakage."