Feds Remove FL from Offshore Drilling Plan

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018


Months after the initial announcement of the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in United States history, the Trump administration has indicated that Florida will be exempt.

This announcement arrives on the heels of protest from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who emphasized that his top priority was to ensure the state's natural resources remain protected.

Lease Sale

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced in October what was projected to be the largest oil and gas lease sale in the country’s history, which includes 76.9 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, drawing both praise and concern.

Scheduled to take place in March, the lease sale is slated to include federal waters off of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

The Bureau of Ocean Management estimated that the Gulf’s outer continental shelf holds more than 48 billion barrels of oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of gas, all technically recoverable. The rest of the OCS holds 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The Proposed Lease Sale 250 will be the second under the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-22, noted Energy Business Review. This includes 14,375 unleased blocks.

Florida Exemption

According to The New York Times, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently called for the allowance of new offshore oil and gas drilling in all U.S. coastal waters. This opens billions of acres in oceans from the Arctic to the Atlantic to potential drilling.

Governors of states along all coasts expressed their concerns over Zinke’s move, but Zinke recently supported Scott’s stance in protecting Florida’s coasts, as they drive much of the tourism for the state. He noted that he was removing the state “from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

Both of the state's U.S. senators, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson, opposed the plan.

Nelson noted that he had spent much of his career fighting to keep oil rigs away from Florida coasts, while Zinke has argued that restrictions had cost the country billions in lost revenue.

California attorney general Xavier Becerra has also called for a ban on drilling off that state’s coast, and other state governors have chimed in as well.

According to Politico, in reversing the policy for Florida, Zinke may have breached the Administrative Procedure Act, which would lend credence to other states aiming to get on the no-drill list.  

   

Tagged categories: Department of the Interior; Government; NA; North America; Offshore; Oil and Gas; President Trump; Program/Project Management

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