WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump used a trip to Florida on Tuesday to propose a 10-year extension of a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, as he visits a state critical to his reelection hopes.
Trump has supported expanded oil and gas development in other places, but the moratorium in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico that stretches roughly 125 miles off shore is popular with coastal Florida businesses, residents and voters in a state where tourism is the largest industry.
The president signed a presidential order designed to extend the moratorium, which is set to expire in 2022, for 10 years and expand it to include drilling off the coasts of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.
“It’s an order that does so much for the state of Florida. It’s an order that I’m so proud to sign,” Trump said. “And this protects your, your beautiful Gulf and your beautiful ocean, and it will for a long time to come.”
Despite the 10-year extension,Trump’s order – like all presidential directives – does not bind future administrations. He can direct his administration not to sell leases in certain parts of the country but anti-drilling advocates want a law that protects Florida’s coastline from drilling regardless of who’s in the White House.
In September 2019, the Democrat-led House voted 248 to 180 to pass a bill sponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fl., to make permanent the moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Republican-controlled Senate has yet to take it up.