Seascape with extraction platform. Photo and Caption: Jesus Keller/Shutterstock.com
President Trump has just extended a drilling ban for the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years. The announcement was made on Tuesday, September 8 at a campaign stop in Jupiter after speaking on the environment at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. The memorandum the President signed also protects Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coastlines from offshore drilling.
Trump addressed another issue on Floridians’ minds: fears he planned to lift the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico oil drilling in June 2022 if he was re-elected. The Trump administration reportedly was poised to lift a federal moratorium on Gulf drilling and offer leases after November’s election within the state’s newly created 800-square-mile Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve. This is despite bipartisan opposition from Florida’s congressional delegation.
A memo from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said the region has been withdrawn from consideration through June 2032.
Trump has supported expanded oil and gas development in other places, but the moratorium in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico that stretches roughly 125 miles offshore is popular with coastal Florida businesses, residents and voters in a state where tourism is the largest industry.
“My administration’s proving every day that we can improve our environment while creating millions of high-paying jobs,” Trump said. Trump said he consulted with Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in crafting the 10-year drilling moratorium extension. Governor Ron DeSantis joined Trump at his Florida appearance.
But the governor’s office has no details about the moratorium.
The move comes as a surprise to many state and federal officials. A congressional aide who works on the issue said their office had gotten no advance heads-up from the White House. Officials and lobbyists told POLITICO the administration never mentioned extending the moratorium.
This announcement represents an election-year victory for drilling opponents in the crucial presidential swing state. Florida, which has 29 electoral votes, is likely a must-win state for Trump. Trump now lives in Florida permanently.
A new NBC News/Marist poll shows Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden deadlocked with 48% from likely voters.
Trump’s announcement makes the Republican president look like he fulfilled his promise after many previous Republicna presidents before him, like Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush had promised to open up more of the U.S. coast to drilling to foster American energy independence.
Industry officials and lobbyists had been working on the offshore exploration issue with the Interior Department, which develops the federal government’s five-year drilling plans.
A Quinnipiac University Poll in March 2019 found 64 percent of Florida voters opposed drilling off state waters, with 29 percent supporting it. All political, gender, education, age and racial groups were opposed to offshore drilling, except Florida Republicans, who supported offshore drilling, 54 percent to 38 percent.
Trump’s Democrat opponent, Joe Biden, said in a statement that he has opened up thousands of acres of lands to new oil and gas drilling. “Trump has called the climate crisis a ‘hoax,'” Biden said. “He has eliminated rules designed to keep our air and water clean.”
Biden has said he opposes new permits for oil and gas drilling in federal land and waters.
South Carolina Governor and Trump ally Henry McMaster praised the president’s order but warned that “we must remain vigilant in the conservation and preservation of our coastline.”
William is the Managing Editor at FloridaInsider.com. His years of experience in journalism, broadcasting and multimedia include roles as a Writer and Web Producer. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science and Communication.