Florida Republicans are warning the Trump administration that the president will have a difficult time winning the key swing state in the 2020 election if it auctions off the Florida’s coastal waters for oil and gas drilling, Politico reported on Wednesday.
A draft plan to allow drilling in the resource-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico off of the state’s coast is reportedly about to be released, something that is uniformly opposed by Florida Republicans, even among those allied with the president.
Staunch Trump supporter Rep. Ted Yoho told Politico that the president “would have a price to pay for” allowing such drilling.
Both parties in the state are against offshore drilling, largely due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that sent tarballs ashore and raised fears of a future spill harming Florida’s fisheries and tourism.
That widespread opposition to offshore drilling is reflected in polls, with a Quinnipiac University survey of Florida voters released last month showing that 64 percent oppose the practice.
In addition, a ballot measure banning oil and gas development in state waters passed overwhelmingly in November.
But President Donald Trump is keen on turbocharging American energy production and has shown an openness in the past to drilling off the Florida coast, according to Politico.
The formal release of a plan is reportedly awaiting Senate confirmation of acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, which is expected soon.
Alex Conant, a partner at Firehouse Strategies, said “It seems hard to believe that the administration would move forward with drilling off the coast of Florida less than two years before a presidential election,” adding that “It would certainly be an issue that Democrats would try to use against [Trump] throughout the state.”