Rubio wants offshore drilling ban extended near Florida

Rubio wants offshore drilling ban extended near Florida
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFormer Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator GOP Senate candidates trade barbs in brutal Indiana primary MORE (R-Fla.) wants the Trump administration to walk back its proposal to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico, adjacent to Florida, to offshore oil and natural gas drilling.

Congress has put a moratorium on drilling in that part of the Gulf through 2022, which has strong bipartisan support from Florida’s leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott (R).

But the administration released its proposal Thursday for offshore drilling rights sales through 2024, and it envisions selling leases there to oil companies in 2023 and 2024.

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Rubio, who has proposed extending the legal moratorium to 2027, said in a Thursday statement that Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkePress: Why does Scott Pruitt still have a job? Interior dismissed experts’ recommendations in blocking tribes’ casino: report Why the BLM methane rule works for industry and taxpayers MORE should take the eastern Gulf off the table.

“As the Department of Interior works to finalize their draft plan, I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation’s bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and remove this area for future planning purposes,” he said.

Florida was hit especially hard by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It sent oil onto some of the state’s beaches, and the tourism and related industries suffered for years.

In addition, Florida hosts numerous military bases. The Pentagon has in the past supported the eastern Gulf drilling ban.

Zinke told reporters Thursday that he would listen to concerns from Florida and elsewhere.

“Certainly, the states and local communities have a voice,” he said. “We’re going to listen to the voices of communities, of all of the stakeholders. So I look forward to having a dialogue with Gov. Scott.”