By Trimmel Gomes of the Florida News Connection
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Despite a White House threat to veto legislation that would permanently ban drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s confident President Donald Trump will still protect the Sunshine State.
DeSantis and the president are close allies – however, while Trump is keen on increasing U.S. fossil fuel production with offshore drilling, DeSantis says he’s been urging Trump to make sure Florida isn’t included.
Susan Glickman, Florida director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says she’s hopeful that will ring true.
“I imagine that President Trump – who will be in a very tight reelection – would not want to anger coastal states like Florida,” says Glickman. “So, it’s probably true that he would not veto that, but we still have a battle to get through the U.S. Senate.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a measure to permanently ban offshore drilling. Opponents, mostly Republicans, argued that a ban undercuts domestic energy security and would limit thousands of job opportunities.
Governors and lawmakers of both parties from coastal states strongly oppose expanded drilling. Glickman says that’s because production and oil spills are damaging to the environment – and to Florida’s brand as a destination hotspot.
“We saw tremendous destruction during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” says Glickman. “And that memory is ingrained in the minds of coastal residents. So, it’s important to have this permanent protection for our coasts.”
Rep. Francis Rooney – R-Naples – sponsored the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019, which passed the House on a vote of 248 to 180. Observers say it has little chance to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.