Outer Continental Shelf Shell Game Leaves Florida's Coastline More at Risk for Drilling

by Alyson Flournoy | February 06, 2018

On January 4, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released its draft proposed program for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The proposed plan would end a broad ban on drilling imposed by President Obama and allow leasing and drilling on over 98 percent of the OCS, including the waters off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico is subject to a congressional moratorium until 2022, but the new plan would commence sales in that region in 2023.  

On January 9, after a brief meeting with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that, contrary to the proposal, he was removing Florida's coast from any consideration for new "oil and gas platforms." Zinke's reported explanation for his decision referenced the governor, his leadership and trustworthiness, his work with the administration on Everglades restoration, Florida's uniqueness, and its economic reliance on coastal tourism.

One might assume that this announcement meant that Florida was no longer at risk from offshore drilling. But from a legal perspective, Zinke's announcement lacked any legal force or effect. Indeed, in an ironic twist, this announcement made any eventual effort to provide protection for Florida's waters legally vulnerable.   

The protection Zinke promised lacks any legal force because it is not an official action taken by the secretary. He is not bound by it. He could tweet ...

Florida's Constitutional Amendment 1 Is Anti-Solar Energy

by Joel Mintz | November 08, 2016
Today, Florida residents are voting on a number of items including Constitutional Amendment 1, misleadingly titled "Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice." Although it gives the appearance of promoting solar energy, Amendment 1 is actually a deceptively worded attempt by big, investor-owned utility companies (including FPL and Duke Energy), masquerading under the banner of "Consumers for Smart Solar," to suppress the growth of solar energy in the Sunshine State and maintain the utilities' current monopoly in the state's ...

Update: Judge Approves Settlement on Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida

by Yee Huang | November 18, 2009
A few months ago, I wrote about a landmark agreement by the EPA to set numeric, statewide nutrient pollution limits  -- the first of its kind in the United States. Florida, like most states, has qualitative nutrient pollution limits, which are written in terms such as, “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna.” Terms like this are difficult to measure objectively and ...

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