Florida cut from future offshore drilling

Sen. Tim Kaine D-Va. center speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats say they’re shifting to offense on health care emboldened by successes in defending the Affordable Care Act. They

Sen. Tim Kaine D-Va. center speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats say they’re shifting to offense on health care emboldened by successes in defending the Affordable Care Act. They

- Republicans and Democrats in Florida found something they can agree on: they're against offshore oil drilling on the Florida Gulf coast.

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke announced the move on Twitter, saying: "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".

According to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is under the direction of the Department of the Interior, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is off of Florida's western coastline, is under congressional moratorium until 2022 as part of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.

Environmental groups Greenpeace and the League of Conservation Voters called the move to protect Florida a political ploy meant to bolster the governor who is reportedly planning to run for an open U.S. Senate seat.

"I think it's very important to continue our efforts to take care of our environment".

Despite a welcome increase in renewable energy from wind and solar, the nation continues to rely overwhelmingly on fossil fuels and will do so for some time.

"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", Zinke said in Tuesday's statement.

"For Floridians we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, which clearly the governor has expressed that's important", Zinke said, adding that he knew when he announced the drilling plan last week that it would spark discussion across the country.

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.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott delivers his State of the State Address in the House chambers on the opening day of the legislative session Tuesday Jan. 9 2018 in Tallahassee Fla
Following Florida's lead, Gov. McMaster to ask Trump to exempt South Carolina from offshore drilling plan

The five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore reserves to development by private companies, Zinke said, with 47 leases proposed off the nation's coastlines from 2019 to 2024.

"Our tactic was open everything up, then meet with the governors, meet with the stakeholders so that when we shaped it, it was right", he told reporters at a news conference Tuesday night.

"Overton says tourists were scared to come to Florida after the 2010 spill, and now he pays close attention to anything that might impact what he sees as 'the Florida brand".

A coalition of more than 60 environmental groups denounced the plan, saying it would impose "severe and unacceptable harm" to America's oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

BOEM currently manages about 2,900 active OCS leases, covering almost 15.3 million acres - the vast majority in the Gulf of Mexico.

America needs oil, preferably from domestic sources.

Still on the books are plans for drilling off the gulf coast of Alabama, just roughly 20 miles from Pensacola.

That would be good for the industry, but not necessarily for the environment.

"It's warm sunshine, blue skies, sugary white sand beaches and anything that can threaten the entire state's economy", says Overton.

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