Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump said Tuesday that he will extend a longstanding ban on offshore drilling off the coast of Florida, a critical 2020 swing state, and expand it to Georgia and South Carolina.
Why it matters: The announcement would further seal off the eastern Gulf of Mexico, a region long-coveted by oil companies.
- Offshore drilling has bipartisan political opposition in Florida, with opponents including GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Where it stands: Much of the eastern Gulf is protected from development only through 2022 under a 2006 law that expanded access in some areas and created a program for nearby states to share revenue from leasing and royalties.
- Trump's presidential memorandum puts the areas off-limits through mid-2032.
- Most offshore U.S. oil-and-gas production comes from the central and western Gulf.
The intrigue: The amount of industry interest in unexplored regions going forward is less certain amid low energy prices that may persist for a long time, and the pandemic's potentially long-lasting effects on demand.
- That said, the area's proximity to the existing Gulf offshore industry and infrastructure would have been a plus for the sector.
- One unnamed industry official told Politico that today's move was a "complete ambush."
Flashback: Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in 2018 that his agency, which regulates offshore drilling, planned to remove areas around Florida from areas it had initially proposed make available for oil-and-gas leasing in the years ahead.
- Today's move goes further by also sealing off areas further up the Atlantic coast, which are no longer covered by formal, congressionally mandated bans but have not yet been leased.