Trump removes Florida from future offshore drilling plans

The U.S. President Trump administration has removed Florida’s coastline from consideration for future oil drilling amid pressure from a Republican governor. 

The removal of Florida’s acreage from future offshore drilling plans came only days after the President Trump’s administration launched its proposed five-year drilling program which would make over 90 percent of the total Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development.

Reactions to the government’s move were mixed with some seeing is as positive news and others as an “outrageous attack” on coastal economies, culture, and environment. This was the largest number of lease sales ever proposed for the National OCS Program’s five-year lease schedule.

The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) included 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas – 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region.

As for the part of the proposed program that would have affected Florida, the DPP included sales in parts of Eastern Gulf of Mexico that are not subject to Congressional moratorium or otherwise unavailable, and in the portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico after the expiration of the Congressional moratorium in 2022. This would be the first time that the majority of the Eastern GOM Planning Area would be available for leasing since 1988. The Atlantic region lease sale included one sale for the Straits of Florida.

According to a press release on his website, following the release of the five-year plan Florida Governor Rick Scott requested to immediately meet with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to discuss his concerns with the federal oil drilling plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.

Following the meeting between Scott and Zinke on Tuesday, the Department of the Interior announced that Florida’s coastline has been removed from consideration for future oil drilling.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Secretary Zinke has agreed to remove Florida’s coastline from consideration for future oil drilling. I would like to thank Secretary Zinke for coming to Tallahassee today following my request for a meeting last week to hear our concerns about oil drilling off Florida’s coast. By removing Florida from consideration, we can now focus on how we can further protect our environment, including our proposal for record funding for the Everglades, our springs, our beaches and our state parks.”

Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “President Trump has directed me to rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local and state voice. I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coast is heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of today’s discussion and Governor Scott’s leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

As a response to the removal of Florida’s coastline from the proposed five-year plan, a number of public officials from other coastal states voiced their objections to the plan. Representatives from Virginia, California, and New York have all asked for an exemption from the proposed drilling plan.

Offshore Energy Today Staff