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NOAA To Hold Listening Session About Clean Coasts

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Anyone interested in moves by the Trump Administration to relax restrictions on offshore drilling can have their voices heard by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As part of a series of listening sessions across the county, NOAAis coming to USF St. Petersburg at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, to talk about the health and status of our coastal waters.

NOAA focuses on conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. They kicked off a series of nationwide public conferences in August. These sessions have been covering topics like fisheries, technology development and tourism as it relates to the oceans.

Among the groups planning to speak to NOAA will be members from Oceana, a non-profit focused on ocean conservation.

“Oceana is trying to let coastal leaders and stakeholders know that this is an awesome opportunity for them to provide input to the federal government on the importance of protecting our coast,” said Hunter Miller, a campaign organizer with the foundation.

Miller said they will also focus on offshore drilling, a big topic in coastal cities across the country. The Trump administration proposed opening up waters that are currently closed to offshore oil and gas drilling.  This decision could affect a moratorium on drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast.

He said some members of the business community and local municipalities are coming out in opposition to this.

“[They know] it doesn’t fit with what makes Florida Florida, which is healthy, clean water in our environment,” Miller said. “It flies in the face of what makes us beautiful and unique.”

He says the health of Florida’s waters doesn’t just affect our beaches, but also our economy. According to Oceana, having healthy oceans supports jobs and tourism, and allowing offshore drilling would threaten that.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to talk to top officials at NOAA, to send the message that offshore drilling is a really bad deal for Floridians,” said Miller. “Our coastal economies and water and environment is too precious to risk.”

The NOAA listening session will be held at the USF St. Petersburg Student Center in ballrooms 2 and 3. Doors will open at 3:30 pm and the session will run from 4 to 5:30.

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Bethany Hanson is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news reporter for spring 2018.