Monday, September 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump puts Gulf drilling protections at risk

President Donald Trump used the seventh anniversary of the BP oil disaster last month to set the stage for new and dangerous drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review an Obama administration plan that limited drilling in areas of the Arctic and southeast Atlantic between 2017 and 2022. This is a serious setback for the environment, public safety and energy policy.

Trump's order could narrow federal protections against drilling on the Alaskan and Atlantic coasts, and open the door to new leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. He instructed Interior officials to consider revising the current schedule of oil and gas lease sales in the outer continental shelf with an eye toward maximizing production activity in the Alaska area, the southern and mid Atlantic and the western and central gulf. He also ordered the fast-tracking of permitting to help determine the amount of offshore resources available, and he called for a review of several safety rules put into place after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. This all takes regulatory and energy policy in the wrong direction.

While the eastern gulf is still protected by a 2006 congressional agreement that bars drilling within 125 miles of the Panhandle and 230 miles of Tampa Bay, drilling in the central gulf could still endanger Florida. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has filed legislation to block Trump from opening up any new offshore areas for drilling until at least 2022. He also has filed legislation to extend the existing ban in the eastern gulf for an additional five years, to 2027. A Pentagon official also has noted the importance the drilling ban in the eastern gulf as a means to accommodate military training in the area.

Zinke's review could take years. Still, any move to open up new areas for offshore drilling sends the wrong message to the industry. It could sap investment in renewables if companies see offshore leases as a cheap hedge for supply over the long term. The move also sends a signal that this administration will not act as a strong manager of sea and energy resources on federal land.

Trump also ordered a review of the Well Control Rule, which Obama put in place last year. The rule aims to improve standards for blowout preventers, the last line of defense for undersea gas wells at risk of exploding. In the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the blowout preventer failed, leading to a series of reforms imposed by the Obama administration that targeted both the equipment and training involved in offshore rigs. Trump ordered Zinke to review whether the rule was necessary.

These are backward steps for a nation and an industry that still are learning the impacts from the worst spill in U.S. history. Congress should not be quick to authorize new offshore drilling, and it certainly should ensure the hard-won safety reforms are not sacrificed in the process.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18