For environmentalists, Trump's Florida offshore drilling decision is bittersweet (with video)

Dems, meanwhile, are straight cynical about Rick Scott's motivation for persuading the Trump administration to keep up the ban.

click to enlarge What? It's not like there's a perfectly viable, increasingly inexpensive and job growth-fostering alternative out there or anything. Oh, wait, there is. - U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard
What? It's not like there's a perfectly viable, increasingly inexpensive and job growth-fostering alternative out there or anything. Oh, wait, there is.

Florida environmentalists are, of course, glad that the Trump administration has decided to keep intact a ban on oil and gas drilling in federal waters off Florida's coasts.

Yet given what led up to the decision and how it could still hurt other states, it's hard for them not to be skeptical.

Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday apparently persuaded Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to not open up Florida's coast to drilling, which the administration had intended to do as part of its plan to allow the hazardous practice along potentially 90 percent of the U.S. coastline. Governors from other coastal states are pissed.

Scott, of course, supported Trump early and praises him often, which has likely has earned him the president's ear. 

Scott, of course, is also eyeing a U.S. Senate run against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, a longtime opponent of offshore drilling who does not praise Trump and thus does not have his ear.

Scott met with Trump and Zinke Tuesday, apparently in an effort to get them to exempt Florida from the plan, at least for now. That gives Scott semblance of a license to tell voters, most of whom think offshore drilling is an absolutely terrible idea, that he can get things done in Washington because he's buds with Trump. 

Never mind that Scott's track record on drilling is at best... viscous and that, aside from his first run, which was during the tea party wave, he tends to feign the kind of moderate views that tend to get people elected statewide. One need look no further than his shifting positions on Medicaid expansion (via, ahem, Obamacare dollars) for evidence of that.

Meanwhile, Nelson, as Florida Conservation Voters' Aliki Moncrief described to The Hill, "has been taking action to defend our shores for decades."

Here is video of Scott in 2010 saying he supports drilling in state waters as long as it's safe.

“Rick Scott’s own words expose just how craven, self-serving and pathologically dishonest his most recent public relations stunt really is. If he runs for Senate, he won’t be able to escape his long, well documented support for dangerous drilling off Florida’s shores and beaches,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement.

And environmental groups still want to torpedo the entire Trump/Zinke plan, not just the Florida portion, and point out that keeping drilling out of the immediate area still means there'd be a potential disaster looming in every other coastal state, and the 2010 BP oil disaster off the Louisiana coast shows that Florida's environment and economy can still face peril from such an event.

"Oil spills don’t respect state boundaries, as we learned after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, so everyone who cares about our coasts should still oppose this plan," said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida, in an emailed statement.

Jorge Aguilar Allen, Southern region director of Food and Water Watch, called the plan to expand drilling along most U.S. coastlines "dangerous and foolhardy," adding that if Scott really cared about the environmental impacts of drilling, he would not allow oil drilling in the Panhandle or fracking in Big Cypress National Preserve.

"If Governor Scott is sincere about his concerns related to oil drilling he should direct his own state agencies accordingly. Failure to block the multiple permits to drill for oil pending in the Panhandle and Southwest Florida could be even more dangerous," he stated.


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