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Scott, Florida senators oppose Trump administration's plan to expand offshore drilling

Proposal met with bipartisan opposition from Florida lawmakers

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(Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's administration is moving to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans, including opening up federal waters off the coast of California for the first time in more than three decades.

The new five-year drilling plan announced Thursday could also open new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast in places from Florida to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades.

It's the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades and comes in response to Trump’s executive order in April, which encouraged more drilling rights in federal waters.

However, Gov. Rick Scott, who met with Trump last Sunday while the president was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, issued a statement Thursday saying that he is opposed to oil drilling off Florida.

"I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary (of the Interior Ryan) Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration," the Republican governor said. "My top priority is to ensure that Florida's natural resources are protected, which is why I proposed $1.7 billion for the environment in this year's budget."
Both Florida senators are in agreement.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said in a statement Thursday that he would fight to prevent drilling off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

"This plan is an assault on Florida's economy, our national security, the will of the public and the environment," Nelson said. "This proposal defies all common sense and I will do everything I can to defeat it."

Nelson said he plans to invoke a procedural rule known as the Congressional Review Act in an attempt to block the Trump administration's efforts to roll back the safety standards put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said he has introduced legislation to extend the moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf until 2027.

"As the Department of Interior works to finalize their draft plan, I urge Secretary Zinke to recognize the Florida Congressional delegation's bipartisan efforts to maintain and extend the moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and remove this area for future planning purposes," Rubio said in a statement.