Several key Florida politicians spoke out against the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling in almost all of USA waters, including the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Announced Jan. 4 by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019 to 2024 draft proposal would open more than 90 percent of US oceans for leasing by oil and gas companies. The most recent assessment completed by the Department of Interior, released in 2011 and updated to include current estimates for the Atlantic OCS in 2014, said undiscovered technically recoverable resources for the entire OCS is 90 billion barrels of oil. Drilling would be allowed from Florida to ME in areas that have been blocked for decades. There have been no sales since 1983 and there are no existing leases in these areas.
“This is all part of an anti-environmental agenda that could have catastrophic consequences for our environmental and economic health”, said Rep. Several Palmetto State politicians have also voiced concern that a spill from the drilling could cripple the state’s tourism economy. Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has already said he opposes the Trump administration’s plan.
The “draft offshore leasing plan continues the Trump administration’s all-out assault on public lands and waters”, said Trim Van Noppen of Earthjustice.
The plan is also likely to face resistance from lobbyists of tourism industry, fishing industry, and coastal industries as opening offshore waters to oil and gas drilling means a devastating impact on all these industries.
“We are continuously developing and improving safety standards, programs, new technologies, and best practices to protect our workers, the environment and marine life”, API official Erik Milito said. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, although the Democratic governors of North Carolina and Virginia oppose drilling off their state coasts. Moreover, the oil prices in the global market add a minimal incentive to the energy sector to pursue oil drilling projects whose costs are astronomical next to a state that is publicly hostile to the federal government.
Canary CEO Dan Eberhart on Monday said the Trump administration’s proposal will ultimately lead to America buying less foreign oil, which in turn will stimulate job growth.
Pallone and U.S. Sen.
The move dovetails with President Donald Trump’s promise to expand domestic energy production, but will come over the objections of environmentalists, state officials, and some business groups anxious about spills and coastal tourism.