VIDEO: Senator Bill Nelson Calls on Senate to Block Oil Drilling off Atlantic Coast

By  //  December 14, 2017

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Nelson helped broker deal banning drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast until 2022 in 2006

ABOVE VIDEO:  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged his colleagues to take up and pass legislation he and others filed earlier this year to block the Trump administration from opening up additional areas to offshore oil drilling until at least 2022.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged his colleagues to take up and pass legislation he and others filed earlier this year to block the Trump administration from opening up additional areas to offshore oil drilling until at least 2022.

The move comes amid reports that the Trump administration is planning to unveil a new five-year oil and gas leasing plan that would open up the entire Atlantic coast to drilling. This new five-year plan, which would go into effect in 2019, would replace the current five-year plan not set to expire until 2022.

“The Trump administration is about to give a huge early Christmas present to the oil industry,” Nelson said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“The Department of Interior is preparing to unveil a new five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing – one that would open up the entire Atlantic coast.”

In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to open up new areas to offshore drilling by altering the current five-year oil and gas leasing plan that took effect earlier this year and doesn’t expire until 2022.

In response, Nelson and others filed legislation that would prohibit Zinke from making any changes to the current five-year plan before it expires.

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“I urge our colleagues to take up the bill filed earlier this year … that would block an attempt by the administration to open our coasts to oil drilling.” Nelson said. “The stakes are extremely high for the economies of our states.”

Nelson, a long-time opponent of having oil rigs too close to Florida’s coast, often cites the state’s unique environment, its multi-billion dollar, tourism-driven economy and the vital national military training areas as reasons why drilling should not be allowed near Florida’s coast.

In 2006, Nelson and then-Sen. Mel Martinez successfully brokered a deal to ban drilling off Florida’s Gulf coast through the year 2022. Nelson filed legislation earlier this year to extend that ban an additional five years, to 2027.

“Why is the Department of Interior in such a rush?” Nelson said. “Because the oil industry wants to start drilling in these areas now, and the Trump administration is going to let them do it.”

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