Trump administration wants to sell access to Florida's coastal waters for oil and gas drilling

click to enlarge Trump administration wants to sell access to Florida's coastal waters for oil and gas drilling
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The Trump administration is reportedly open to making a deal: For the right price, oil and gas companies can begin drilling off Florida's coastal waters.

Politico reports that the Trump administration's Interior Department is weighing such a plan, as President Donald Trump has previously signaled that he's open to drilling in federal waters off the Sunshine State coast.

Multiple oil and gas industry executives told Politico that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast are included in the administration's current five-year offshore drilling plan, which hasn't yet been released.

What's holding up the release of the plan, for now, according to Politico, is that many within the Interior Department are waiting for the U.S. Senate to confirm acting Secretary David Bernhardt to lead the agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture Monday on Bernhardt's confirmation hearing. It's expected to take place this week.

Even so, Florida's top elected officials have remained steadfast in their opposition to offshore drilling in state waters.

Back in early 2018, former Republican Gov. Rick Scott condemned the Trump administration's announcement of possibly reopening Florida waters for drilling during his Senate campaign and then got an "exemption" for Florida from former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. 

Florida citizens overwhelmingly disapprove of the practice, too.

A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed that 64 percent of Florida voters oppose the idea.

As if that's not convincing enough, Florida voters also approved a ballot initiative in last year's elections that outlawed the practice in state waters.

"Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio claim they care about Florida's economy and environment, but they stand idly by as the Trump administration sells out Florida's precious natural resources to Big Oil and Gas," says Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo in a statement.

She adds that the Trump administration's plan to expand oil drilling would be detrimental for the state's tourism-driven economy.

Politico reports that the draft plan from the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would still have to go through a comment period, which would provide the Trump administration with another chance to revise it before the plan's final iteration.

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