Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson urged his colleagues Tuesday 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.
The new five-year plan, which would go into effect in 2019, would replace the current five-year plan not set to expire until 2022.
In April, 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.
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 in the Gulf of Mexico ... along with rocket booster staging zones in the Atlantic Ocean ... as reasons why drilling should not be allowed near Florida's coast.
In 2006, Nelson and then-Senator 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.