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Trump Faces Opposition in Florida Over Offshore Drilling

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Friday, January 5, 2018   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Even President Donald Trump's close friend and ally, Gov. Rick Scott, is opposing the administrations plans to open new stretches of federal waters to oil and gas drilling, including off the coast of Florida.

In a statement, Scott said he requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke because such a plan would negatively impact Florida's natural resources.

Steve Mashuda, the managing attorney of the oceans program at Earthjustice, says Florida simply has too much to lose.

"We're putting at risk a thriving fishing industry," he warns. "We're putting at risk a booming and absolutely necessary tourist industry. We're putting at risk the most fragile and most productive waters off the East Coast in our nation. It's just not worth the price."

Twelve leases are nominated for the Gulf of Mexico. Zinke said he will discuss the matter with Scott, but for now, there will be no drilling lease sales in the eastern Gulf until 2023.

Residents, environmental groups and small-business owners who call Florida home say there is simply no place for oil drilling in the Sunshine State.

Bill Hamilton, who owns and runs a garden center in St. Augustine, says it's time the administration looks toward the future instead of the past.

"We're at the point in the history of the world that we need to move away from fossil fuels, and to use any resources to look for new supplies of fossil fuels is not well thought out," he explains. "It's not being well considered."

The Interior Department said the five-year-proposal, which would allow leasing federal waters in the Arctic, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, would not move forward without state, community and congressional feedback, but Zinke has not said whether states would have the power to veto drilling off their own shores.

A list of public meetings on offshore drilling can be found here.


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