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Crist, Environmental Groups Blast Trump’s Decision to Expand Offshore Drilling

Offshore Drilling | Environment | Climate

By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter

Oil spills “don’t just devastate ecosystems,” local businesses and residents also suffer, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said.

TAMPA BAY – U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and environmental groups condemned an executive order by President Donald Trump that would open new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas leasing.

“Florida’s coasts and oceans are home to stunning wildlife, beautiful beaches and support a robust tourism economy, all things that stand to lose from offshore drilling. The president’s action opens the door to expanded drilling into our public waters, including drilling that could threaten the Eastern Gulf of Mexico – a move that goes against the values a majority of Floridians share: that our oceans and beaches should be preserved, not sold off to the highest bidder,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of St. Petersburg-based Environment Florida.

Rubiello added, “Instead of risking our coasts, President Trump should pay attention to the thousands of citizens, fishermen, and business owners along our Gulf and Atlantic Coasts and the millions of Americans from Alaska to Maine who have already said no to offshore drilling. Today’s action is the wrong decision and we will continue fighting in whatever venue it takes to block proposals to drill off our coasts.”

Charlie Crist

Crist, a former governor who, during his term, proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit offshore drilling after the Deepwater Horizon spill, and fought to hold BP accountable for the resulting damage to our coastal communities, said, “When Deepwater Horizon exploded, Floridians saw firsthand the catastrophic consequences of offshore drilling. Spills don’t just devastate ecosystems – local economies that depend on the health of our environment and clean water also feel extreme pain.

“I urge the Trump Administration to reverse course and put the well-being of our coastal communities above oil industry profits.”

The New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network also sounded a warning about the possible consequences it sees from the executive order.

“This new executive order directly targets many of the key protections that were put in place after the BP drilling disaster to prevent future catastrophes,” said Raleigh Hoke, campaign director with the Restoration Network. “Rolling back existing safety protections while opening new areas to offshore drilling is a recipe for disaster. This order puts people and wildlife at risk.”

In addition to directing federal agencies to explore opening new areas like the Atlantic, the order calls for the reconsideration of the “Well Control Rule,” according to the Restoration Network. When considering this rule, the Bureau of Safety And Environmental Enforcement said that it “addresses key recommendations made after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, closes gaps in existing requirements, and updates BSEE regulations to reflect industry best practices.”The executive order also directs federal agencies to reconsider rules for offshore air pollution, and protections for whales and dolphins from underwater seismic explosions used to search for oil and gas.

These changes come at a time when offshore oil and gas exploration and production continues to cause significant damage in the Gulf of Mexico region while companies are rarely held accountable for spills and accidents, according to the Restoration Network.

Rubiello also referred to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, saying, “Seven years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded causing the most massive oil spill in history, businesses, communities, and wildlife here in our Gulf region have yet to fully recover. This order exposes all of our oceans to similar risk of disaster. To make matters worse, we are already experiencing record sea-level rise and extreme weather events fueled by climate change. We must not dig that hole any deeper by opening new areas to more drilling.”

The executive order, Rubiello said, comes less than a month before the May 20 Hands Across the Sand event. Activists and concerned citizens are expected to gather on Treasure Island and elsewhere in the state to oppose offshore drilling and to support clean, renewable energy.

For information about Crist, go to crist.house.gov.

For information about Environment Florida, go to environmentflorida.org.

Charlie Crist | Environment Florida | Environment | Offshore Drilling | BP Oil Spill | Oil Spill | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

Charlie Crist | Environment Florida | Environment | Offshore Drilling | BP Oil Spill | Oil Spill | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter

 

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Crist, Environmental Groups Blast Trump's Decision to Expand Offshore Drilling
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Crist, Environmental Groups Blast Trump's Decision to Expand Offshore Drilling
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Oil spills "don't just devastate ecosystems," local businesses and residents also suffer, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said.
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TB Reporter
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