Bill Nelson hails Barack Obama’s ban of Atlantic oil drilling


President Barack Obama reversed direction Tuesday and banned oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean through 2022, leading Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to hail the move as good news for people who live along the coast.

“We are grateful that they did that, for the reasons that we have fought for years to keep drilling off the coast of Florida,” Nelson said in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday afternoon.

In the morning, Obama’s Department of the Interior withdrew offers of oil and gas leases for the five-year period of 2018-2022 for areas off the coast of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. Last summer the department announced it would not offer leases off Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Nelson has been a staunch opponent of offshore drilling, either in the Atlantic or the Gulf of Mexico. In his floor speech Tuesday he urged his colleagues to ban oil and gas drilling there so that “we don’t have to keep fighting this every five years” as the administration decides where to provide leases.

“Just this morning the administration has walked back the offering of those leases off the eastern seaboard of the United States,” he said. “It’s certainly good news … it’s good news for the Atlantic Coast residents who fought so hard to keep the drilling off their coast.”

Florida Petroleum Council Executive Director David Mica said he was not surprised by Nelson’s reaction, given his record on energy issues, which he said was one of the worst ever in Congress.

“Senator Nelson is a good friend, but he is consistently voted against American energy,” Mica said. “He’s opposed American energy in the form of the Keystone Pipeline, he’s opposed American energy in the Gulf of Mexico, he’s opposed funding from oil and gas revenues for conservation and revenue sharing to states, and he’s opposed now to oil and gas exploration America on the Atlantic Coast, and he’s opposed oil and gas exploration in Florida on shore. And he’s opposed many other worthwhile American energy projects of the oil and gas industry.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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