Florida Senator Bill Nelson has accused the Trump Administration of playing political football with Florida’s coastline.
Four days after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to allow oil drilling off Florida’s coast, he reversed his decision this week.
“I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts,” Senator Nelson said. “But now, suddenly, Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida’s coast and four days later agrees to ‘take Florida off the table’? I don’t believe it.
“This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump Administration to help Rick Scott, who has wanted to drill off Florida’s coast his entire career. We shouldn’t be playing politics with the future of Florida.”
Scott, who is widely expected to challenge Senator Nelson in the 2018 election, claimed credit for the Trump Administration’s turnaround.
Senator Nelson had spoken on the Senate floor earlier this month and vowed to block the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back several safety standards the Obama administration put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
During his speech, Senator Nelson said he plans to subject the revised rule to the Congressional Review Act—a procedural tool that would block implementation of the revised rule. Senator Nelson spoke less than a week after the U.S. Department of the Interior released its draft proposal to revise the regulations put in place to prevent more incidents like Deepwater Horizon.
Senator Nelson is a long-time opponent of having oil rigs near Florida’s coast as drilling poses a threat to Florida’s environment, tourism-driven economy, and its vital national military training areas. Senator Nelson joined then-Senator Mel Martinez in 2006 to ban drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico through the year 2022. Last year, Senator Nelson filed legislation to extend this moratorium on drilling off Florida’s Gulf coast for an additional five years, to 2027.
Among the investments in Florida tourism that could be hurt by offshore drilling is Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.