Kathy Castor, scientists say Joe Biden will protect Florida from oil drilling

offshore drilling florida coast
'Joe Biden will stop all new oil drilling, including off Florida’s coast.'

A vote for Joe Biden will be a vote against oil rigs off Florida’s beaches, according to Rep. Kathy Castor. Just a decade after the BP oil spill, that alone should guarantee Florida’s electoral votes go Democrat, she said.

“We are still living with the impacts of the worst environmental disaster in history,” she said. “Why would Florida reelect Donald Trump when he wants to put our way of life at risk?”

The Tampa Democrat moderated a virtual panel brought together by Biden’s presidential campaign. During the call, scientists, activists and elected officials decried Trump administration plans to expand offshore drilling.

But she said there’s particular urgency as a ban on drilling off Florida’s coast expires in a mere two years.

“This is urgent now,” Castor said. “Joe Biden will stop all new oil drilling, including off Florida’s coast.”

Former state Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, said the Biden approach to push for clean energy would be safer and smarter.

“Florida’s No. 1 treasure is its environment,” he said.

Shaw noted nearly 70% of Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment banning drilling in state waters. But members of the Trump administration have pined for the chance to open federal waters.

Castor noted that the House has passed legislation she introduced with Republican Francis Rooney to ban new drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico that would make a moratorium permanent. But the Senate won’t take up the legislation.

She said the more time passes, the more Washington forgets the pain of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy said local business owners still remember. She said even though much of Florida’s coast was spared oil on its beaches, visitors stopped coming after the disaster regardless.

“Tourism went into the gutter,” she said.

Kennedy suggested the chaos of the Trump administration that erupts each day can obfuscate major policy matters such as drilling permits, but there’s a clear difference in November on the ballot.

“Biden has said on multiple occasions it’s off the table,” she said. “He won’t bring drilling to our communities and our beaches. That’s all we need to hear.”

University of South Florida fisheries biologist Steve Murawski, meanwhile, reminded the impacts of the spill continue today. There are mammal species that continue to show changes in breeding habits and fishermen still report finding fish weakened by pollution and scarred.

And while surface oil never stuck beaches in Florida beyond the Panhandle, underwater plumes created by the 87-day BP oil spill damaged coastal communities around the Gulf from Texas to Naples.

“The spill is not over,” he said.

Ramon Cruz, President of the Sierra Club, noted Biden also wants to end fracking on public lands and will advance investment in clean energy.

“He understands the scale of the urgency of the problem,” Cruz said.

The incumbent, meanwhile, continues to dabble in climate change denial.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 2, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Everything about Trump is for Trump! There is not an ounce of care in the paranoid delusional racist sexist liar traitor Trump! Money for Trump is his game!

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