Trump Administration Gives Florida ‘Get Out Of Offshore Drilling Free’ Card

By on January 11, 2018

Last week the Interior Department announced that it would open up 47 new offshore block leases between 2019 and 2024 for oil drilling, making almost all of the country’s coastline available for oil speculation. It would represent the single largest oil lease sale in history and is a stark reversal of the recent trend of protecting coastal spaces.

In the wake of the announcement, governors and lawmakers from several states — both Democrats and Republicans — came out in opposition to the plan. One of the more notable detractors was Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, whose words apparently had some sway with the administration.

On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that he would remove Florida from the plan to open up offshore drilling. In addition to being an enormous political favor to Scott, the move now protects Trump property Mar-a-Lago from suffering any tourism and/or property damages that would result in an offshore disaster.

“I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver,” Zinke said.

Now the other coastal states are wondering why Florida’s concerns are so important to the administration but not theirs. California has far more coastline at stake, and states like Maine rely heavily on the fishing industry to drive their local economies.

The United States isn’t even a decade removed from the deepwater horizon event that saw upwards of four million gallons of oil spill out into the Gulf of Mexico — a disaster that still has lingering consequences today and nearly destroyed the area’s tourism and other ocean-related industries.

And then there’s the issue of production itself. The U.S. is already producing so much energy (especially oil) that costs are way down. Is there really a demand to produce more? Likely not, but then again the decision was likely never about economics.