DeSantis supports offshore drilling and fracking, just not in Florida

The Florida governor’s policies at home wouldn’t mirror his plan for the U.S. as president.
A man wears a face mark as he fishes near docked oil drilling platforms, on May 8, 2020, in Port Aransas, Texas.
A man wears a face mark as he fishes near docked oil drilling platforms, on May 8, 2020, in Port Aransas, Texas. [ ERIC GAY | AP ]
Published Aug. 10, 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis would allow offshore drilling and fracking in the U.S. as president, as long as it’s not in Florida.

The position is part of DeSantis’ plan to “unleash American energy independence,” while maintaining Florida as the only Gulf state without rigs, refineries and pipelines dotting its coast.

“We have a constitutional amendment that does not allow offshore drilling. And so that’s something that we honor,” DeSantis said about Florida while revealing his economic plan in New Hampshire last week. “That is not saying that I think that should apply to Louisiana or Texas. So that will continue.”

DeSantis has argued that the protection of Florida’s coastlines is essential to the state’s economy.

In 2022, he campaigned for reelection as governor on protecting Florida’s beaches from a oil spills and working with the state Legislature to ban fracking across the state, though the fracking ban hasn’t come to fruition. Fracking is the process of injecting water and chemicals deep into the ground to extract fossil fuels.

Now as a presidential candidate, DeSantis says he supports expanding offshore drilling and natural gas production and ensuring energy is produced domestically, and says such actions could help the nation’s economy.

“We will achieve energy independence by using our domestic resources. The United States has the best oil and gas resources in the world,” DeSantis said. “We have an incredible opportunity to leverage this competitive advantage for the good of our economy.”

His positions on energy reflect what President Joe Biden’s agenda has looked like in the last three years. The Biden administration is on track to break domestic oil production records set by the Trump administration.

Despite previous calls for no more drilling, the Biden administration has moved forward on several projects expanding the offshore oil industry. The Department of the Interior is expected to release a five-year offshore drilling plan at the end of the year that will determine the future of the industry in the U.S.

Public opinion on the expansion of oil and gas is nuanced. While 69% of Americans say the U.S. should prioritize developing renewable energy like solar and wind, only 31% want to see fossil fuels phased out completely, according to a 2022 poll by the Pew Research Center.

Instead, 67% believe the U.S. should use a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy as countries around the world decarbonize their economies.

Although he has railed against the Green New Deal — a far-reaching energy proposal from Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — DeSantis has not said much about his views on investing in renewable energy. He said during his economic rollout that he would reverse the Biden administration’s policies “trying to force Americans to buy electric vehicles.”

At home, DeSantis has signed legislation prohibiting public officials from considering clean energy and climate change when making investments unless those goals are strictly financial considerations.

DeSantis referred to climate change as “the politicization of weather” during a Fox News interview in May. But in the same interview, he said the government should focus on energy independence and that Florida has been able to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through “market-based solutions.”