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Trump signs order extending drilling ban off Florida Gulf coast, expands it two other states

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U.S. President Donald Trump exits a vehicle prior to boarding Air Force One as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Florida and North Carolina at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

JUPITER, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order to extend a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida, as he seeks to win support in the state ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The executive order would expand the ban to Florida’s Atlantic coast and to the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

“This protects your beautiful Gulf and your beautiful ocean and it will for a long time to come,” Trump said after signing an executive order in front of officials from the three states.

The Trump administration has spent much of its first term working to expand U.S. oil and gas drilling and roll back Obama-era rules on pollution from fossil fuels. But proposals for drilling off Florida have prompted fierce opposition by tourism, real estate, and environmental interests.

Trump, a Republican, narrowly beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida in 2016 and faces a tough race this year against Joe Biden. Florida is one of several states considered crucial in election that Trump is slated to visit this week.

The moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico was set to expire in 2022. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a fellow Republican who has a bill to extend it through 2027, said earlier this year he expected Trump to back his proposed extension.

Biden opposes new permits for drilling in federal land and waters. Biden said in a statement that Trump has refused to listen to scientists on climate change and his environmental record has mostly been about eliminating rules on clean air and water and opening up public lands to drilling.

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