The Trump administration signed a 10-year drilling moratorium extension in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Southeastern U.S. coast on Tuesday. Environment Florida has worked for decades to protect the Florida coastline from dirty and dangerous offshore drilling, which threatens the state’s coasts and beaches.
The president’s actions on Tuesday mark a major shift in policy, as the administration previously proposed holding lease sales in all areas covered by the proposed moratorium. That earlier position ran counter to long-standing public opposition to offshore drilling throughout the Southeast. This opposition led to the 2018 state constitutional ban on drilling in Florida waters and hundreds of local government resolutions against seismic testing and drilling.
Extending the moratorium is a positive step, but stops short of permanent protection. Congress could grant permanent protection by passing the Protecting and Securing Florida's Coastline Act of 2019 (H.R. 205) and the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941). Both passed the House last September and await action in the Senate.
Jenna Stevens, state director of Environment Florida, released the following statement:
“Floridians love our beaches, and we have consistently opposed offshore drilling. By extending the moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf and off Florida’s Atlantic coast, the administration has begun to recognize the importance of preserving our beaches and marine life. We are glad to see movement toward protecting our beautiful coasts.
“What remains is to pass a permanent ban on drilling that will ensure Florida's beaches stay safe from oil spills forever. We hope the White House will follow today’s announcement with active support for the bipartisan bills in Congress that would permanently protect the coast.
“Just ten years ago, Floridians watched in horror as oil slicks from the Deepwater Horizon spill washed ashore over miles of Pensacola-area beaches. From coastlines covered in tar to wildlife struggling to survive in toxic water, we know drilling off our coasts risks devastating our marine ecosystems and our way of life. When we drill, we spill. Hopefully this action today will bring us closer to a clean, healthy future.”