Coastal drilling opponents offer public comment in Tallahassee

By Trevor Pettiford, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018, 8:56 PM EST

The on-again-off-again controversy over whether the Trump Administration is or isn’t interested in drilling for oil off the shores of Florida went to Tallahassee on Feb. 8 looking for public input.

  • Floridians could offer comments via computer
  • Comments would go to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
  • Gov. Scott: "I've talked to Secretary Zinke. He's a man of his word."

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which proposed expanded offshore oil drilling, is holding open-house style meetings across the country to gather input on the issue. However, at the only open house meeting BOEM scheduled in Florida, the agency did not accept oral public comment.

In response, a number of Florida based groups organized a "People's Hearing," offering Floridians a chance to offer testimony via computer in a hotel conference room.

Participants' testimony was recorded by a stenographer for later submission as public comments to U.S Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has said all along, however, that he believes Sec. Zinke’s recent statement saying offshore drilling near Florida is “off the table”

“I've talked to Secretary Zinke. He's a man of his word,” said Scott. “He's a Navy Seal and I believe they're going to do exactly what they committed.”

Others, like St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, aren’t so sure. But Kriseman believes there is strength in numbers.

“There's a unified voice, at least, in the state of Florida that we don't want drilling in the Gulf,” says Kriseman. “We know if it happens, the risks we face, it's not good."

"The military doesn't want it, so the only one that seems to want drilling in the gulf is the President," Kriseman continued. "And hopefully all our voices will be able to convince this administration that this is not a good idea.”

No information has been made available regarding how many comments have been left for Secretary Zinke.