Uh oh: Trump reverses course on offshore drilling, exempts Florida

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday January 10th, 2018


The problem here isn't that you can't make a case drilling elsewhere. And you can make a legitimate argument that some locations should be prioritized over others, for various reasons that could very well include tourism. As you go about deciding where to approve leases, things like that are perfectly fair considerations.

But it's a long way from that to what just happened: Last week, the Trump Administration announced that it will lift the ban on offshore drilling in virtually all U.S. waters. Then Florida politicians from both parties freaked. Less than a week later, the Trump EPA says there will be no drilling off the shore of Florida.

Wow. That was easy. Too easy:

The Trump administration last week proposed opening nearly all U.S. offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, a move aimed at boosting domestic energy production and which sparked protests from coastal states, environmentalists and the tourism industry.

The administration’s decision on Tuesday removes from consideration a portion of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, an area that oil drillers have said they are interested in exploring – but not all of it.

Florida state waters extend 3 nautical miles from the shore on the Atlantic, and 9 nautical miles on the Gulf side, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Scott last week announced his opposition to the drilling plan and said he had asked to meet with Zinke.

Zinke’s decision to exempt Florida from offshore drilling leaves the door open for other governors opposed to offshore oil and gas development to seek a similar prohibition for their states.

Oceana, an environmental lobby group, said it was pleased that Zinke had removed Florida from areas open to drilling.

“Such a quick reversal begs the question: Will the Trump administration give equal consideration to all the other coastal Governors from both parties who overwhelmingly reject this radical offshore drilling plan?” Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins said in a statement.

The message this sends, loud and clear, is that the Trump Administration can be rolled by parochial concerns if they scream loudly enough. Republican Gov. Rick Scott was joined by Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Senator Bill Nelson in demanding Florida's exemption from the drilling plans. It doesn't mean there can't be any drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but it can't go on within three miles of the Florida coastline, which could conceivably put a lot of oil reserves off limits.

So why shouldn't every other east coast state put on a similar offensive? Why shouldn't California? Why shouldn't Alaska? And if Trump tells them no after telling Florida yes, what is the rationale for that? Because Florida's tourism concerns are more important than California's? Or any other state with its particular objections?

Everyone can give you a reason that their own backyard simply can't be the place for drilling, or development, or infrastructure, or whatever. If parochial interests always ruled then we would never do anything. I'm not saying Florida's concerns shouldn't be heard, but to cave to them this quickly signals to everyone that political pressure based on parochial concerns will yield results.

If the Trump Administration can be rolled that easily, it's going to be awfully tough to make American great again.

Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!