BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — In his first comments since the announcement, Governor Rick Scott praised the Trump administration for preventing offshore drilling off the coast of Florida.
On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke bowed to pressure from the Republican Governor and said drilling would be “off the table” in waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.
“I want our beaches to be pristine. I want to keep our coast pristine,” said Governor Scott. “We’ve got to do everything we can to take care of our environment. On top of that, we have a big military presence here that uses the eastern Gulf for their training.”
When the Trump administration recently announced plans to expand access to offshore drilling, Governor Scott immediately opposed it and called for a meeting with Secretary Zinke.
“They should treat us differently than other states, other states can make different choices,” said Scott.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson is skeptical of the announcement. He posted a statement on Twitter that said, “I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts. This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott, who has wanted to drill off Florida’s coast his entire career. We shouldn’t be playing politics with the future of FL.”
“Senator Nelson ought to be happy. This is a big day for our state to get the secretary of the interior to say that they’re not going to do offshore drilling, he should be happy,” Governor Scott said. “This is not about politics, it’s about policy and so this is a good day for our state.”
“I’m gonna fight to make sure this is a place where our kids and our grandkids want to live,” Scott added.
On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senator Nelson further criticized the decision saying, “Not only am I appalled, I have recoiled at this political gain.”
The senator also sent a letter to Secretary Zinke with some questions.
“Well, what exactly does ‘off the table’ mean? The whole eastern Gulf? Half of it? 125 miles off the coast? Does it mean both coasts of Florida? Does it mean just one, what about the straits?” Nelson asked.
“Right now, his promise is just empty words because the only real thing out there that is existing is the law that prevents drilling off of the coast of the gulf of Florida for the next 5 years,” said Nelson. “The administration and Secretary Zinke shouldn’t be playing politics with an issue that is so important to all of our futures, but especially so to Florida’s future.”
There has been a lot of speculation over whether Scott will challenge Senator Nelson for his Senate seat.
“Everybody always talks about their next job if they’re a politician. I’ve got 362 days left in this job. I just did my State of the State [address], I’m working on making sure this is a state everybody wants to live,” Scott said.
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