President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday afternoon to have Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke reevaluate oil and gas drilling prospects along a number of areas of America’s outer continental shelf including the South Atlantic Ocean.
Those include areas along the Florida coast and southeast U.S. coast where oil and gas drilling are currently banned, under a moratorium that Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican then-U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez pushed into law in the past decade.
That ban is set to expire in 2022.
Trump’s executive order targets the entire outer continental shelf. In a release, the White House argued that it potentially could be tapped for up to 90 billion barrels of oil and more than 300 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas deposits.
“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities,” Trump declared in the release.
Reaction was swift from some quarters in Florida.
Nelson and Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton called a press conference for Monday to detail opposition plans to any drilling off the Florida coast.
Wasserman Schultz and Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan announced they intend to file a bipartisan bill Monday to extend the moratorium for five more years, matching a bill Nelson introduced earlier this year.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, called out Gov. Rick Scott for supporting Trump, and then promised to work tirelessly to protect Florida’s shores and ecosystem.
“President Trump is threatening Florida’s economy, beaches, waterways and natural resources with today’s executive order expanding offshore drilling,” Gillum stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “It’s shameful that Governor Rick Scott is speaking at a political event supporting President Trump when the Administration is so recklessly threatening the very fabric of Florida’s economy.”