Floridians have until March 9 to comment on President Donald Trump's draft proposal program that would allow for offshore drilling and seismic testing off the state's coasts.
Activists will be protesting and gathering comments to submit to the administration in Miami Beach on Sunday at CoastFest, an educational event hosted by Oceana, a non-profit organization that focuses on protecting the world's oceans.
Elected officials, business leaders and scientists will join to speak on the impacts of offshore drilling and seismic testing.
“This event is an opportunity to become engaged [and] send a public comment,” said Salome Garcia, the South Florida campaign organizer for Oceana.
The draft for the proposed oil and gas leasing program was announced early this year by the Trump administration. It opens up the potential for offshore drilling and seismic testing in 47 areas, identified by the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, within the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
It has been met with debate, being embraced by the oil and gas industries, which support energy exploration and independence, and opposed by local officials and conservationists, who fear an environmental disaster.
Days after the program was announced, Ryan Zinke, U.S secretary of the Interior, reported the removal of the Sunshine State from oil and gas leasing potential on Twitter, declaring that a meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott had prompted the change.
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) January 9, 2018
However, the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management (BOEM) has not made any official changes to the program.
“Bottom line is Florida and South Florida, right here off the coast of Miami, Florida Keys and Broward, is still in the plan for offshore drilling and seismic testing,” said Garcia.
The event is family friendly and will also feature artists and music.
More information on the event can be found on the CoastFest Eventbrite page.