Banned Oil Drilling in Florida Does Nothing to Save the Environment

None of us saw this simple truth: The Gulf doesn’t have state lines; currents don’t stop at government mandated boundaries; you drill baby drill in the Gulf of Mexico, a wellhead explodes, and the oil can potentially drift in currents that carry it to all of the landmasses bordering the Gulf and beyond. -- A Million Fragile Bones



Donald Trump, at Florida Governor Rick Scott’s urging, has removed Florida from his wide-sweeping, apocalyptic plan to expand oil drilling in Arctic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic waters. This is, of course, a political maneuver designed to help boost Republican Scott’s possible efforts to unseat longtime Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Scott hasn’t announced his run, but according to a Saint Leo University survey, Scott could beat Nelson by double-digits. Open up Florida waters to drilling and it’s a solid bet Scott’s political career could be over.

So, no, the Trump administration, villainous as usual, didn’t suddenly grow a heart over the environment. Neither did Rick Scott. This was a political calculation that, in fact, completely leaves the planet in immense peril.

As we learned in the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill, gushing oil knows no boundaries. Oil doesn’t stop its deadly flow at state, federal, or international map lines. Oil gets picked up by currents and travels thousands of miles, spoiling the planet far, far away from the original mishap.

When the BP Maconda well blew fifty miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, all five Gulf states were severely impacted. These impacts are still being felt by wildlife and humans alike. As I state in A Million Fragile Bones, “In a 2016 report, NWF [National Wildlife Federation] states, ‘In the first five years after the disaster, more than three-quarters of pregnant bottlenose dolphins in the oiled areas failed to give birth to a live calf.’”

We still do not know if many oil-and-Corexit impacted species, including Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, will recover. Nor do we know the extent of the adverse effects on human health. However, it is now clear that the oil and toxic dispersants used in the “clean up” caused cancers, respiratory issues, and other health concerns among exposed persons.

Despite our growing body of knowledge about the devastation wrought by the BP oil spill and the toxic means used to disappear it, “For countless reasons — among them, corporate and governmental obfuscation, the enormity of the disaster, and the limits of present-day science — we may never know how bad it was.” ( A Million Fragile Bones)

Trump’s Florida offshore plan is a cynical move designed to help a loyal supporter’s political future. It does nothing to support our future. It does not protect the environment — not Florida’s or any other coastal state’s. Texas and Louisiana are, alas, lost causes, bought and owned by Big Oil, and their recklessness has, indeed, irrevocably damaged huge swaths of our planet.

But the rest of our coastal communities? From Washington to Maine, people must find a way to make their voices heard. They must bring all possible pressure on their elected officials to resist Trump’s latest plan to turn the Earth over to Big Oil, a plan that is about one thing: Big Oil getting even richer.

We don’t have Big Oil’s influence and surely not their money. But that can’t stop us. We simply cannot go silently into an oiled wasteland’s eternal night.