Trump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report

The Trump administration may walk back on its commitment to abstain from offshore drilling along the coast of Florida, Politico reported Wednesday.

Officials at the Department of the Interior have been in talks with oil companies about leasing rights to drill in the resource-rich Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast.

Oil and gas sources told Politico that production near Florida is included in the administration’s yet-to-be-released five-year offshore drilling proposal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Offshore drilling is widely opposed in Florida by the public and members of both parties. During the midterm election, voters gave approval to a referendum to bar offshore drilling in the state, and politicians have actively fought any production development off the coast.

As the administration floated the idea of expanding offshore drilling in early 2018, then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced that he had negotiated with former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Conserving wildlife migrations starts with listening to landowners MORE to exclude Florida — a big win for Scott in his Senate campaign against former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPoll: Six Dems lead Trump in Florida match-ups Poll: Six Dems lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA MORE (D-Fla.).

Sources told Politico Trump was furious about the announcement, seeing it as contradicting his energy dominance message.

The Department of Interior did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the White House.

Industry representatives told Politico the offshore drilling may be released once acting Secretary David Bernhardt is confirmed, which is expected later this week.

In his confirmation hearing last month Bernhardt said the offshore drilling proposal is at “step one,” but several oil industry sources contradicted that to Politico, saying the plan is almost complete.

The Interior Department referred the Hill to Bernhardt's response to Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOn The Money: Economy adds 75K jobs in May | GOP senator warns tariffs will wipe out tax cuts | Trump says 'good chance' of deal with Mexico On The Money: Economy adds 75K jobs in May | GOP senator warns tariffs will wipe out tax cuts | Trump says 'good chance' of deal with Mexico Trump administration appeals ruling that blocked offshore Arctic drilling MORE (I-Maine) during his confirmation hearing last month, when Bernhardt said the administration listens to state's concerns. 

Offshore drilling could prove a political liability to Trump in his 2020 reelection campaign, given opposition from voters and the tourism industry.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisHillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda Hillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda Poll: Six Dems lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (R), whose campaign frequently centered on his closeness with Trump, signed an executive order shortly after taking office that instructed the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to oppose any offshore drilling.