WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration will not allow drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Florida upon a recommendation from Governor Rick Scott, Reuters reports.
According to the report, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said: “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”
The Trump administration last week proposed opening nearly all US offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production which sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists, and the tourism industry.
The administration’s decision on Tuesday removes from consideration a portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, an area that oil drillers have said they are interested in exploring – but not all of it. Florida state waters extend three nautical miles from the shore on the Atlantic, and nine nautical miles on the Gulf side, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Last week, Scott announced his opposition to the drilling plan and said he had asked to meet with Zinke. Zinke’s decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling leaves the door open for other governors opposed to offshore oil and gas development to seek a similar prohibition for their states.
On Twitter, several governors, attorneys general and lawmakers representing coastal states asked Zinke to extend the exemption for Florida to their coastal waters. The governors of New York and Oregon and the attorneys general of Maryland and California were among those who called on Zinke to ban offshore drilling.
Zinke said last week that the department’s draft National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019 to 2024 would make over 90% of the outer continental shelf’s total acreage available for leasing to drillers, a national record.
That would reverse the Obama administration order placing 94 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf off limits to drillers. Obama’s 2017-2022 plan would be replaced by the new program when it is finalized.