ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bidding for offshore oil and gas leases could begin as early as 2019 in almost all federal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico under a new Trump Administration proposal. Environment Florida denounced the plan, which would open vast new areas of the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf to drilling.
“Oil and gas drilling is an inherently dirty and dangerous business. There is simply no safe way to drill,” said Jennifer Rubiello with Environment Florida.“By allowing offshore drilling in more of our coastal waters, the Trump administration increases the chances of a dangerous oil spill. Opening these areas to drilling endangers sea life including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, as well as the life and livelihoods of Floridians and all Americans in coastal communities.”
Public opposition to the proposed plan could still make a difference. It did during the Obama administration.
During President Barack Obama’s second term, his administration, under pressure from coastal communities and environmentalists, created a five-year plan that protected the Atlantic and Arctic from drilling. Then, just before leaving office, President Obama announced additional protections for parts of the Arctic and Atlantic. But after President Obama left office, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order vacating these additional protections. The matter is currently being litigated.
Today’s proposed plan is only the second stage in the approval process -- and it is open to public comment. Once the Trump administration formally releases the plan, the public will have an opportunity to comment.
“Everyone who cares about clean and healthy oceans should make his or her voice heard by commenting against this proposal,” said Rubiello. “We will fight for our coasts by fighting this plan.
"By opening these areas to drilling, the Trump Administration will be acting counter to the best available science -- and the will of coastal residents. The past two years has seen an outcry against drilling. Thousands of Floridians including business owners and a bipartisan coalition of local, state and federal legislators oppose drilling off of Florida’s shores. Similar organizing has also taken place up the Atlantic Coast and across the country in California.
“Instead of threatening our waterways and marine wildlife, President Trump should pay attention to the thousands of citizens, fishermen, and business owners along the Floridian Coast and the millions of Americans from Alaska to Maine who have already said ‘no’ to offshore drilling,” concluded Rubiello.“Today’s action is the wrong decision and we will do whatever it takes to block proposals to drill off our coasts.”