U.S. President Donald Trump shocked the oil industry today with a surprise announcement that he would extend the existing moratorium on oil drilling on parts of Florida’s, South Carolina’s, and Georgia’s coast, according to Politico.
The announcement was a complete surprise, according to Politico, even to congressional aides, lobbyists, and industry officials who have been working on this very issue.
The announcement is a complete shift from the White House’s previous stance, which sought to open up those areas to oil drilling, although most had expected the President to wait until after the election.
President Trump had declared his intention to open up those areas to drilling years ago, but Florida’s Governor Rick Scott at the time—a Republican—was a staunch opponent of the plan, citing his state’s strong tourism industry.
Rick Scott now serves as a Senator. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also a Republican, is a fierce opponent to opening up these areas to oil drilling as well.
Back in 2018, Florida voters weren’t so sure how they felt about a ban on offshore oil drilling; 54% of voters were in favor of a ban, while 42% were against.
Florida’s 29 electoral votes will be hard fought for on the campaign trail this year as a critical swing state, and it appears that the White House views the battleground state as anti-coastal drilling. Related: Oil Prices Tank On Global Demand Concerns
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analysis of API polling data, however, the oil industry has strong support in key battleground states, with 93 percent of voters in critical states seeing it as important for the U.S. to produce enough energy to keep it from relying on foreign oil, while 92% believe that keeping oil and gasoline prices affordable is important. 82% of voters recognize the value that oil and gas have on their lives, and 73% believe that nat gas and oil will still be a significant part of America’s energy needs in 2040. What’s more, 63% believe that the nat gas and oil industries will be critical for helping the economy recover from the current pandemic.
For Florida specifically, nearly two-thirds of Florida voters—including a majority of Democrats, say they would be “more likely to vote for a candidate who supports access to oil and gas produced in the U.S.”
82% of Florida voters support continued investments in the oil industry, while 84% want to minimize harm to the environment.
The move may be just the ticket for the President, lying somewhere between protecting the treasured coast while still being seen as supportive of the overall industry.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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