Trump Extends Drilling Ban Off Florida Gulf Coast, 2 Other States

September 8, 2020 Updated: September 9, 2020

President Donald Trump signed an order to extend a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida until June 30, 2032. The memorandum also expands the ban on oil drilling to Florida’s Atlantic coast, as well as to the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

“This protects your beautiful Gulf and your beautiful ocean, and it will for a long time to come,” Trump said in Jupiter, Florida, just before signing a presidential order in front of officials from the three states.

He said the decision to extend and expand the drilling ban comes after close consultation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

A statement from the White House on Tuesday said that Trump has “balanced oil and gas production with the interests of residents of the Southeast, withdrawing certain offshore waters from development for 10 years.”

The trip to Florida comes as Trump steps up his travel to battleground states 8 weeks before the election. From Florida, he headed to a campaign rally in North Carolina, another must-win for his reelection, before returning to the White House late Tuesday.

The moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico was set to expire in 2022. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has a bill to extend it through 2027, said earlier this year he expected Trump to back his proposed extension.

Trump’s administration originally sought to expand offshore drilling off many U.S. coasts. Rick Scott, Florida’s governor at the time, declared his opposition to the expansion in January 2018. The Trump administration barred oil drilling off the Florida coast in response.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden accused Trump of “conveniently” changing his mind. On Twitter, he wrote: “Just months ago, Donald Trump was planning to allow oil and gas drilling off the coast of Florida. Now, with 56 days until the election, he conveniently says that he changed his mind. Unbelievable. You don’t have to guess where I stand: I oppose new offshore drilling.”

Trump called out Biden at the event at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, saying that Biden’s policies “will destroy jobs; cause energy prices to double and triple and quadruple, to skyrocket beyond belief; and the environment will be badly hurt.” He warned that Biden and the radical left could potentially take away Florida residents’ energy independence.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday praised the action taken by the Trump administration as “good news” but warned “we must remain vigilant in the conservation and preservation of our coastline.”

The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), an industry group, said in a statement on Tuesday that offshore drilling provides jobs as well as raw materials for plastics such as that used in medical equipment.

A study NOIA released in late May found that banning offshore drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico would mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue.

“Our preference should always be to produce homegrown American energy, instead of deferring future production to countries like Russia and Iran, which do not share American values,” the group said in its statement on Tuesday. “Limiting access to our offshore energy resources only shortchanges America and dulls our national outlook.”

Trump in early January had said that increased petroleum production in the United States will help the country face disruptions to oil supply from external sources.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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