Florida residents and businesses are welcoming President Trump’s announcement of a ten year moratorium on drilling off the Sunshine State, though expressing concern that the ban could be an election year political tactic that he could easily reverse if reelected.
“While this announcement seems like good news in the short term, this presidential memorandum does not offer the same level of protection as Congressional action, as it could easily be rescinded by President Trump or any future president,” says Christian Wagley, coastal organizer for Healthy Gulf. “Based on President Trump’s history of weakening or eliminating dozens of rules that give Americans basic protections of air, water and public health, it’s difficult to trust him to honor this commitment.”
U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples)—a champion of protecting Florida’s coast from drilling–recognized the tenuous nature of a presidential memorandum in his statement on President Trump’s announcement:
“I hope that the Senate will now realize what the House of Representatives and President Trump realize – that Florida needs to be protected from offshore drilling – and act to convert this executive order into formal legislation like H.R. 205 so that it cannot be easily reversed by a future administration.” (https://francisrooney.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2579)
Rep. Rooney introduced H.R. 205 (Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019), which passed the U.S. House in September 2019. The bill would make permanent the current moratorium on Eastern Gulf drilling that expires in 2022, but was never taken-up by the Senate.
Ted Ent is President and CEO of Innisfree Hotels, a Gulf Breeze-based hotel chain that owns and operates hotels and related businesses along the Gulf coast. He has long opposed drilling off Florida due to the 2010 BP oil disaster and the threat to the state’s tourism-based economy. Ent is thankful for the president’s announcement, but expressed concern about whether it will be sustained.
“While President Trump’s executive order to extend the moratorium on offshore drilling near Florida is a good first step, it is not permanent and can be rescinded immediately ‘by the stroke of a pen,’ he says. “We need to continue to lobby the United States Senate to ratify the congressional drilling moratorium and make it an act of Congress.”
Opposition to drilling crosses multiple industries including military and tourism, and is bipartisan:
In November, 2018, nearly 70% of Florida voters voted to add a provision to the State constitution that prohibits any oil and gas drilling in Florida waters.
Dozens of local governments in Florida have taken official positions against offshore drilling—including the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, and the City of Fort Walton Beach.
The Department of Defense has for years maintained the consistent position that the expansion of oil and gas drilling into the Eastern Gulf would threaten the U.S. military’s largest test range for weapons and training.
H.R. 205 (Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019) passed the U.S. House in September 2019. The bill would make permanent the current moratorium on Eastern Gulf drilling that expires in 2022, but was never taken-up by the Senate.
Healthy Gulf works with people, communities, and businesses to oppose drilling off Florida and to create a just transition to renewable energy. We also maintain an oil and gas industry oversight role through our New Orleans headquarters. For more information or questions please contact Florida – Alabama Coastal Organizer Christian Wagley: firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 687-9968. Ted Ent may be reached at (512) 650-6029.