President Trump surprised many people on Sep. 8 when he announced a 10-year extension to the current ban on offshore oil drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
He signed the presidential memorandum during a campaign stop in Jupiter, Florida, at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. He was surrounded by some of Florida’s top Republicans, including Governor Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. and Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, R-Fla.
Trump opened the event by thanking those who were present and those who tirelessly worked with him to get this memorandum done. He then proceeded to attack presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan for the environment by declaring that it “would destroy America’s middle class” and let countries like China, Russia and India continue their record of polluting the Earth’s resources.
The president mentioned his administration’s environmental efforts, including signing legislation that authorized “$100 million to fight the red tide and toxic algae” that is showing up on Florida’s coast. Showcasing his achievements, he also mentioned directing over $500 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike and Lake Okeechobee in central Florida.
Trump then unveiled the important news of the day. He announced that he “will sign a presidential order extending the moratorium on offshore drilling on Florida’s Gulf Coast and expanding it to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, as well as the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.”
The president’s focus then shifted to his opponent. He claimed that Joe Biden’s approach would “destroy jobs; cause energy prices to double and triple and quadruple, to skyrocket beyond belief; and the environment will be badly hurt.” He then proclaimed that he will defend our environment, our workers, and what he called “our cherished way of life.”
The president then compared himself to Theodore Roosevelt, citing the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. He states that he is “number one since Teddy Roosevelt.”
Trump continued to list his environmental achievements, such as joining the One Trillion Trees Initiative, fully or partially cleaning up 61 EPA Superfund pollution sites, and investing over $38 billion in drinking water infrastructure.
The political world had mixed reactions to the signing of this memorandum. The reactions were divided along party lines. Republicans applauded the president for taking initiative and signing the memorandum while Democrats and several environmental groups called it a political stunt to try and shore up votes in Florida.
The Sierra Club political director Ariel Hayes told The Hill that Trump is in fact “the worst president ever for the environment and climate.” Hayes cites the president’s failure to fund Everglades restoration, Trump’s stated desire to sell our waters to corporate polluters, and the fact that he rolled back over 100 environmental protections.
It is no wonder why the environment is such a pivotal issue for politicians in Florida, especially with the 2020 elections just around the corner. A Public Policy Polling poll found that 57% of Floridians consider environmental and climate issues important. The poll also finds that 58% of voters support moving to an economy strictly based on clean energy by 2050.
Another poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University shows that 89% of Floridians believe climate change is real and happening. The environmental awareness of Floridian voters may stem from the fact that Florida is a peninsula that relies on a tourist economy.
Both Democrats and Republicans will be seeking to capitalize on this as the 2020 elections are approaching quickly.
Featured image: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida. Unmodified photo by Ebyabe used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3klaabV)
Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.