Offshore Drilling White House Nix
White House to announce no offshore oill drilling for seven years
BY LESLEY CLARK crline lclark@MiamiHerald.com
The White House will announce Wednesday afternoon that it won’t allow offshore oil drilling for at least 7 years in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
A senior administration official confirmed the decision, which was prompted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Only months before the massive spill, President Obama had announced plans to allow oil and gas exploration as close as 125 miles off Florida’s west coast.
On the Atlantic side, the Outer Continental Shelf from Delaware to Central Florida would have been open to drilling, after feasibility studies.
Even before the BP oil spill, Florida Democrats had urged the administration to reconsider their decision.
“It’s good the president is listening to the people of Florida,” Nelson said.
His office noted that drilling off Florida’s coast is banned at least until 2022, under a 2006 law Nelson backed.
“(Nelson) hopes Florida’s next governor and the Legislature similarly will commit to protecting the state’s tourism economy and unique environment,” spokesman Dan McLaughlin said.
Later Wednesday, Sen. Nelson plans to meet with incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott to discuss oil drilling and high-speed rail.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Scott said he supported expanded offshore drilling in an “environmentally sound way and adhering to the strictest of safety standards.”
Environmental groups reacted positively to the news.
“We are elated that the Atlantic coast and the Eastern Gulf , which were in the cross-hairs for offshore drilling, are now in the clear,” Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director of Oceana, a Washington-based organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, said in a statement.
“We know there is no safe way to drill for oil and gas, and we don’t want to see another spill like the one we watched all through the spring and through summer,” she said.
“It’s much smarter to develop clean energy such as offshore wind on the Atlantic Coast — it will get us more energy for less money, and create more jobs, and it is guaranteed not to spill,” she added.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was disappointed with the decision.
In a statement from Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the turnabout for the Obama administration “represents a major step backward for the security of America’s energy future.”
“By continuing to keep most of America’s abundant oil and natural gas resources under lock and key, the Obama administration is ensuring that we will continue to increase our dependence on foreign oil, which threatens our national security,” she said.