In 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.