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Sen. Bill Nelson In "Endless Fight" To Prevent Offshore Drilling

Sen. Nelson talks to soutwest Florida residents about why he thinks offshore drilling is bad for Florida.
Quincy Walters
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson stopped in Ft. Myers to talk about why offshore drilling is bad for Florida. Speaking at Page Field airport’s base operations building, he outlined reasons why oil extraction shouldn’t be allowed off the Gulf coast.

Nelson’s visit comes amidst talks that the Trump administration plans to undo Obama-era bans of offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

“Not only do we have our tourism-driven economy on our side, not even to speak of the environment and what we learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” he said. “Also, that’s the largest testing and training area for the United States military in the world – is the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida.”

Nelson said two former Republican Secretaries of Defense side with him on his military argument – Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld.

Betty Osceola, of the Miccosukee tribe, came to see the senator speak. She said Native Americans’ voices aren’t often heard when it comes to environmental issues.

“As an indigenous person, we’re always taught to respect and protect the environment that we live on,” she said. “And for offshore drilling, I’m not in favor of that, because we can see with the last oil spill that occurred off the west coast [of Florida], it was very damaging.”

The Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico when the oil rig exploded.

Nelson said preventing offshore drilling is an “endless fight” and that last month a Louisiana senator presented legislation that would “incentivize” offshore drilling. Nelson said he’s going to travel up and down the Gulf coast of Florida to get people to realize the negative impacts of extracting oil offshore. 

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Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.