Mucarsel-Powell and other critics predict Trump would break promise to ban offshore drilling

Floridians have long opposed offshore oil drilling near Florida. As of Tuesday, President Trump says he does, too, but critics say his record proves otherwise. This photo was taken at Grayton Beach State Park. Credit: Florida State Parks, Department of Environmental Protection

South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, long an opponent of offshore oil drilling in waters off Florida’s coastlines, predicts President Donald Trump has no intention of keeping his promise made Tuesday to ban drilling near the Sunshine State.

Based on his record of supporting the fossil-fuel industry in the name of energy independence, Mucarsel-Powell said Trump would break the promise if re-elected after making it only to curry election-eve favor with Florida voters.

“He has clearly signaled that he will reverse this announcement shortly after the election and allow for drilling,” Mucarsel-Powell said in statements issued Tuesday night. “There is no greater threat to our environment than this administration, and the blatant greenwashing of his campaign is nothing but a scheme.”

Mucarsel-Powell, a Monroe County Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, a Republican from Naples, reacted to Trump’s signing Tuesday of an order extending an Obama-era moratorium on oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It followed the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster in the Gulf.

Rooney is not running for office this fall. Mucarsel-Powell is in a tight race for her U.S. House race, according to the Miami Herald, facing off with Republican Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Trump’s new order extends the moratorium to both of Florida’s coastlines as well as the Atlantic coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, both red states in 2016.

“Thanks to my administration’s pro-American energy policies, we can take this step and the next step while remaining the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.  We’re the largest producer now in the world, by far,” Trump said. “With fracking, the shale revolution, and the tremendous surge in American energy production, we’re showing that we can create jobs, safeguard the environment, and keep energy prices low for America and low for our citizens.”

Florida residents and elected officials have long been on record opposing offshore oil drilling, Mucarsel-Powell said, while Trump’s actions Tuesday constitute a complete about-face right before he faces re-election. She also scoffed at his boast about safeguarding the environment while advancing oil, coal and fracking.

Last September, Rooney succeeded in having the Democrat-controlled House adopt his offshore drilling ban, and he and Mucarsel-Powell have been calling for its passage in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The House passage of the bill followed a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2018 to ban drilling in state waters (within 3 miles of the Atlantic coast and withing 10 miles of the Gulf coast), making clear how Florida voters feel about it.

In June, Mucarsel-Powell and Rooney raised an alarm after learning that Trump’s Department of Interior was quietly making plans to open the Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Mucarsel-Powell called the president’s action Tuesday a “sham.”

Oceana Action, a national ocean advocacy group, is among the critics who accuse Trump of insincerity because his sudden interest in protecting coastlines from oil drilling apparently does not extend to all Atlantic waters nor to all of the Gulf of Mexico.

Oceana says Trump’s promise falls flat because he has not withdrawn his administration’s plans to resume offshore oil drilling.

“Offshore oil drilling is dirty and dangerous and Trump’s message sounds more like political speech than a move toward permanent protection,” said Diane Hoskins, director of the Oceana Action Campaign. “These coasts do need real protections and we hope the president formally withdraws his current proposal; otherwise, it’s hard to see how this statement has any benefit to coastal economies.”