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Florida Exempted From Offshore Oil Drilling

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The Trump administration has exempted the coast of Florida from offshore oil and gas drilling.

The US Government agreed to give special consideration to ecologically sensitive Florida coast within a week of unveiling a five year plan that would open most of the country's offshore waters to oil and gas drilling.

The move, which gives energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard, evoked criticism from environmentalists and some Republicans.

Republican Governor of Florida Rick Scott had sought a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to discuss his concerns and to remove his state from the drilling plans.

After a hastily-arranged rendezvous at the Tallahassee International Airport Tuesday, Zinke and Scott announced that there will be no new offshore oil drilling in the State of Florida.

Governor Scott thanked Secretary Zinke for agreeing to remove Florida's coastline from consideration for future oil drilling. "We can now focus on how we can further protect our environment, including our proposal for record funding for the Everglades, our springs, our beaches and our state parks," he said in a statement.

Zinke said he supports the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coast is heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.

The change of course is a clear indication of the political importance that President Donald Trump attaches to Florida, where he narrowly won the state's 29 electoral votes in the presidential election.

Scott, a popular leader in Florida, is touted as the GOP candidate for Senate election later this year.

The next step for responsibly developing the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024 was announced by Ryan Zinke on January 4.

It proposes to make more than 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available for exploration.

The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas - 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, 7 in the Pacific Region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and 9 in the Atlantic Region. This is the largest number of lease sales in U.S. history.

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