January 2018, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke held an impromptu press
conference with former Governor Rick Scott. During the press conference, Zinke
announced that Florida would not be included in the new OCS Oil and Gas leasing
program and would be exempt from offshore drilling. The Governor used this
moment to align himself with opponents of offshore drilling. Scott then went on
to beat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, a longtime environmental advocate and
critic of offshore drilling.
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the joint Zinke-Scott press conference, the Tampa Bay Times published an editorial making one thing clear: the future of offshore drilling in Florida is still uncertain. Officials, including former Secretary Zinke, have flip flopped on whether Florida is, in fact, exempt from the offshore drilling plan. There has also been discussion about what that exemption would actually entail. Scott, a former proponent of offshore drilling, will play a major role in determining the future of Florida’s coastline. Senator Scott must support extending the eastern gulf moratorium as it is the only way to guarantee that Florida’s coast is protected. The Editorial board concludes their piece by calling for Senator Scott to “be specific and unreserved about his opposition to drilling” and to work with the Florida delegation, in a bipartisan way, to protect their coast.
As the federal government works to expand offshore drilling, they are simultaneously rolling back safety standards put in place to prevent disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Matthew Brown, from the Associated Press, recently published an article analyzing these rollbacks.
Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration called together a commission to study the causes of this disaster and produce a report on their findings. From the commission’s findings, regulations were created to prevent future catastrophic oil spills. To date, numerous important safety measures have been, or are in the process of being, rolled back including the Production Safety Systems Rule and the Well Control Rule. The Production Safety Systems Rule revision was finalized last year and no longer requires independent third party inspection of certain safety and pollution prevention equipment on offshore oil rigs. The Well Control Rule revisions are currently underway and propose “more flexibility in how companies meet safety and equipment standards.”
The Trump administration argues that these regulations are unnecessary and the revisions to these regulations will save industry more than a billion dollars. Nonetheless, another oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could threaten Florida’s clean coast economy which supports 609,899 jobs and generates $37.4 billion in GDP. This begs the question: why would we move in the direction of loosening our regulations and putting Florida’s coastal economies at risk?
To read the full article
and learn more about rollbacks in the energy sector, visit: https://www.apnews.com/faca868339eb413f9a446ccb990dba05