It's totally clockwork: some absolutely horrendous (alleged) news pertaining to the Trump campaign/administration breaks, and shortly thereafter the administration does something equally and opposingly horrendous that appeals to Trump's base and/or obscenely moneyed donors.
On the heels of media reports stemming from a forthcoming book chronicling the (alleged) misadventures of the Trump campaign/administration, which includes salacious personal details — such as Melania Trump crying sad tears on Election Night and The Donald eating cheeseburgers in bed whilst bemoaning his fate (not to mention former ally Steve Bannon calling the Trump campaign's contact with Russia "treasonous") — comes a policy announcement that could affect the environment and the economy in states like Florida.
The administration on Thursday announced a five-year plan to expand offshore drilling in federal waters off Florida and other coastlines where it has for years been forbidden. Politico reports that the plan would open up "nearly all federal waters" to potential oil and gas drilling. It would subject 47 areas to oil and gas drilling leasing, including 12 areas in the Gulf of Mexico, two of which are currently subject to drilling bans that expire in 2022, according to a U.S. Department of the Interior media release that followed a conference call announcing the plan.
Thursday's announcement, reversing protections his more popular predecessor put in place, was not unexpected.
And you'd better friggin' believe it comes with a side of vehement opposition from elected officials, environmental groups, businesses and coastal residents who absolutely do not want another Deepwater Horizon on their hands, and are prepared to block this thing.
“The BP spill devastated my state's economy and 11 people lost their lives,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) said on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Washington Examiner reported. “That's why I plan to subject this misguided rule to the Congressional Review Act.”
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), was succinct in his initial response.
"Absolutely not," Crist tweeted Thursday.
Even U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Florida Governor Rick Scott — neither of whom are Mr. Environment — don't approve.
"I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration. My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected, which is why I proposed $1.7 billion for the environment in this year’s budget,” Scott said in a statement his office tweeted out Thursday afternoon.
Rubio said he supports a bill to block drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Democrats were quick to call out Scott, who is exploring a possible senate run against Nelson in 2018, on his past support of offshore drilling.
"Scott has consistently called for more offshore drilling, opposes ending drilling for oil in the Everglades and has significant investments in oil companies that are currently drilling near the Everglades," reads a Florida Democratic Party statement that accompanied a litany of links to news stories document his past support for offshore oil and gas drilling in Florida (like this one). "He opposed President Obama’s plan to ban drilling off the Eastern Gulf for seven years, even in the months after the Deepwater Horizon spill. His tweet is nothing more than Scott’s typical, self-serving politics and the people of Florida will see right through his lie.”
Environmental groups expressed their outrage over the dangers expanded drilling poses to economies and fragile coastal ecosystems as news of the policy shift broke.
“Here along the Gulf Coast, we know the dangers of oil and gas drilling all too well. There is simply no safe way to drill,” said Environment Florida director Jennifer Rubiello in an emailed statement. “By allowing offshore drilling in more of our coastal waters, the Trump administration increases the chances of a dangerous oil spill. Opening these areas to drilling endangers sea life including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, as well as the life and livelihoods of Floridians and all Americans in coastal communities.”
The group Earthjustice, which brings the fight against environmental degradation to the courts, vowed they'd take action.
“Today’s draft offshore leasing plan continues the Trump administration’s all-out assault on public lands and waters," Earthjustice president Trip van Noppen said in a statement. "The plan proposes to expand offshore oil drilling everywhere, including in our most sensitive waters. It puts irreplaceable wildlife and coastal communities at risk for the sole benefit of Big Oil, and it takes us in exactly the wrong direction on the urgently needed transition to a clean energy future. Less than a year ago, after years of study and public input, President Obama kept leasing out of some of our most sensitive seas and permanently protected the Arctic Ocean and important parts of the Atlantic Ocean from expanded offshore drilling. President Trump is bent on reversing these gains, but we will continue to fight him at every turn.”