Signaling its predictable opposition, the Florida Petroleum Council issued a statement Wednesday opposing the proposed amendment to the state constitution that bundles a ban on oil drilling in state waters with a ban on vaping in indoor work spaces.
The Constitution Revision Commission wrapped together the two proposals Monday, dubbed the amendment "clean air, clean water," and placed them on the November ballot on Monday. The 37-member citizen panel is convened every 20 years to put amendments directly on the ballot.
“Domestic oil and natural gas development is a key driver of Florida’s economy – supporting high-paying jobs and investments in our state," said David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, which represents the oil and gas industry. "Linking this important decision with electronic cigarette use just doesn’t make sense. Voters should be able to make decisions on public health and its economic future separately.”
The GOP majority panel was dominated by appointees named by Gov. Rick Scott, who hopes to also be on the ballot in November. It bundled together separate constitutional questions on five other amendments and rejected repeated attempts by several members of the commission to separate them.
Mica said that by bundling the issues together, the CRC "will force Florida’s voters to vote for or against two completely unrelated, but important, issues at the same time. Bundling these issues is mixing apples and oranges, and this decision, made without any public debate, could harm jobs, the state economy, tax revenues, and our long-term energy future.”
In 2010, in the face of oil industry pressure, the Florida Legislature rejected a call by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to put a similar ban on oil drilling off state waters. Crist called a special session to ban the prospects of the practice in Florida in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the year before, but the GOP-controlled legislature insisted it wasn't needed and adjourned the session after 49 minutes.
Photo: Constitution Revision Commission members meet in Miami as part of its listening tour last year. Pedro Portal, Miami Herald.