Oil industry targets Florida in new offshore drilling advocacy push

Oil industry targets Florida in new offshore drilling advocacy push
© Getty Images

The oil industry is undertaking a new public relations campaign to push for offshore drilling along Florida’s coast.

The American Petroleum Institute’s Explore Offshore program, launched in June to promote offshore drilling, held its first Florida event Wednesday.

The Trump administration’s January proposal to allow offshore oil and natural gas drilling all along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts met strong opposition in many places, but it was especially widespread in Florida.

ADVERTISEMENT

That quickly prompted Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Big-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site MORE to promise that no drilling would be allowed in the water near either side of Florida.

But the oil industry has nonetheless pushed for some compromise, including allowing some new drilling with a large margin around the state.

“Our American way of life and the freedoms we enjoy are undoubtedly linked to access to affordable, reliable energy. At the same time, 94 percent of America’s offshore energy resources are completely off-limits to natural gas and oil development, disallowing hundreds of thousands of American jobs and abundant domestic energy supply, and keeping us reliant on foreign sources,” Jim Nicholson, co-chairman of Explore Offshore, said in a statement.

“Affordable energy is critical to the quality of life in the Sunshine State,” said Jeff Kottkamp, the Florida co-chairman for the campaign and a former Republican lieutenant governor of the state.

“We are speaking with our local leaders throughout Florida to discuss ways to maintain our state’s natural beauty and meet the energy needs of our growing population of over 20 million residents and 110 million annual visitors.”

At the event, Nicholson said that with the drilling the industry wants, there would be no rigs visible from the shore.

“Most of these offshore reserves are the same distance from land as that of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. There’s little or no chance of this exploration being visible from coastal lands,” he said at the Tallahassee event, according to radio station WJCT.