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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Trump signs order to open up more oil drilling, setting up clash with Florida



WASHINGTON - President Trump this morning signed an executive order that could open up more oil drilling, setting up a confrontation with Florida politicians.

The “America First Offshore Energy Strategy” calls for a review of drilling in the outer continental shelf. President Obama before leaving office put into place restrictions that closed off areas in the Arctic and Atlantic as well as the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

"It’s a great day for America workers, unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs," Trump said. "Our country is blessed with incredible natural resources, including abundant offshore oil and natural gas reserves."

Sen. Bill Nelson yesterday filed a bill to block the move but with a Republican majority in both chambers that effort may falter. Still, any changes under Trump could take years to implement.

Florida opposition emerged immediately.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, recalled the BP oil disaster. "When Deepwater Horizon exploded, Floridians saw firsthand the catastrophic consequences of offshore drilling. Spills don't just devastate ecosystems – local economies that depend on the health of our environment and clean water also feel extreme pain," said Crist. "I urge the Trump Administration to reverse course and put the well-being of our coastal communities above oil industry profits."

Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida, said: "Florida's coasts and oceans are home to stunning wildlife, beautiful beaches and support a robust tourism economy, all things that stand to lose from offshore drilling. The President’s action opens the door to expanded drilling into our public waters, including drilling that could threaten waters in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico – a move that goes against the values a majority of Floridians share: that our oceans and beaches should be preserved, not sold off to the highest bidder.”

[Last modified: Friday, April 28, 2017 4:31pm]


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