Trump Admin Official: Florida not formally off table for offshore drilling

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Interior Department official says the Trump administration's promise to exempt Florida from an offshore drilling plan is not a formal action.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing to open nearly all U.S. coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling. At issue is a promise by Zinke to keep Florida "off the table" for offshore drilling.

Walter Cruickshank is acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Cruickshank says Zinke's announcement "stands on its own" but there's no formal decision yet on the 5-year drilling plan.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says that confirms what fellow Democrats suspect-- that Zinke's statement was "nothing more than a political stunt" to help Republican Gov. Rick Scott run for Nelson's Senate seat.

On Wednesday night, Senator Nelson said he is blocking the confirmation of three Interior Department nominees until Secretary Ryan Zinke formally removes Florida from the Trump administration’s massive offshore oil and natural gas drilling plan.

The government has a moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf until June 30, 2022, imposed partly because the Pentagon worries oil development would interfere with military testing and training in the area.