After the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon explosion, Rick Scott stated on his campaign website:
"Rick will fight to ensure than any future offshore drilling does not negatively impact Florida's beaches. As we explore the expansion of domestic drilling in the U.S., we must ensure that we have sound policies in place that ensure the companies drilling are doing so in an environmentally sound way and adhering to the strictest of safety standards."
That's a general promise -- vowing to fight to make sure drilling doesn't hurt beaches and that we have sound policies in place related to drilling.
In January 2011 after he took office, Gov. Scott met with former senator and former Gov. Bob Graham, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as co-chairman of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. They met for 35 minutes Jan. 14 to discuss the commission's report
and for that effort we gave Scott an In the Works
on his promise.
What has he done since then? We found little in news reports:
* In June, Mary Anne Carter, Scott's policy chief at the time, said Scott's new special advisor on energy policy, Mary Bane, would create by the end of summer a proposed state energy policy
that would address offshore oil drilling and other topics. But that policy is still in the works, according to the Governor's Office. We will borrow what Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz told us in December about a promise to lower electricity costs
: "Gov. Scott feels a comprehensive energy policy for Florida is something that is needed for the state. Gov. Scott looks forward to working with the Legislature and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to develop such a plan."
* In an Oct. 16, 2011, interview with the Naples Daily News
in response to a question about drilling and Cuba, Scott said: "I met with the Coast Guard; they have plans and you know you just hope that they have ... that they've put in all safeguards they need and it doesn't happen. And then you hope that ... you know, because it all would come up the Gulf Stream, that this gets pushed out. And if not, that's all our beaches up there. But on the other issue ... on just pure ... on whether we should be doing offshore drilling or not, what I said all along is that we shouldn't do it unless we are very comfortable that we can do it fairly - I mean safely - because look at what happened last year with the BP oil spill and the devastating impact it had on the entire state. And didn't really get oil; hardly any oil on our beaches, but it was devastating to the economy up there and it appears it impacted the whole state's economy."
* Scott set off a firestorm from environmentalists when he made comments about drilling in the Everglades
in September. Some thought he advocated for an expansion of drilling there, but Scott's office said he did not. Regardless, his comments don't provide much insight into any efforts he has taken related to offshore drilling since the Everglades aren't exactly offshore.
We reached out to a few other people -- Graham, environmentalists and the executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council -- to ask about what steps if any Scott or his administration have taken related to his oil drilling promise.
Graham said the state of Florida could encourage members of Congress to adopt recommendations -- made by Graham's commission and federal agencies -- to enhance safety.
"Much of that would not be by public acts -- more by picking up the phone and calling key members of Congress, urging them to adopt policies that would reduce the chances of Florida suffering another environmental or reputational or both assault as we did in the spring, summer and fall of 2010," Graham told PolitiFact Florida in an interview, saying he didn't know of Scott doing that.
David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council (his brother is Florida Republican Congressman John Mica), said Scott's staff has asked him questions about the progress of regulation and other events emanating from the spill and the future of drilling plans.
The U.S. Department of Interior released an updated oil and gas strategy
, commonly referred to as the five-year plan, in December 2010. "Because the potential oil and gas resources in the Mid and South Atlantic are currently not well-known, Interior will move forward with an environmental analysis for potential seismic studies in the Mid and South Atlantic OCS to support conventional and renewable energy planning," states a Department of Interior press release. "No lease sales will be scheduled in the Atlantic in the 2007-2012 program or in the 2012-2017 program."
The state's Department of Environmental Protection has not submitted a comment on the five-year plan. (In June 2010 while Gov. Charlie Crist was still in office and Scott was campaigning, the DEP secretary at the time sent a letter toDOI
saying that it was premature to evaluate new areas for future leasing until improvements are made in response to theDeepwater Horizon blowout.)
"We would have hoped the governor would ask for broader expansion of area and to date he hasn't done that," Mica said. Mica told us that some communication about drilling may not be official written communications -- Scott's staff have talked to federal officials about issues related to drilling.
"He has been very non-forthcoming on any energy-related policy," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida. "It's like the disappearing energy policy."
"He hasn't done anything one way or another," said Susan Glickman, a consultant to Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Scott's communications office told us in an e-mail Dec. 28: "It does not make sense to explore the expansion of domestic drilling if no specific proposal has been presented. If there is a desire to pursue such an expansion, we will explore the potential safety and environmental impacts."
It's clear Scott is keeping tabs on drilling. But we were unable to find evidence of any action or advocacy on his part to ensure future drilling doesn't hurt the beaches and is done in an environmentally sound and safe way. His energy adviser didn't create the report that his administration said would be done by the end of summer 2011. For now we rate this promise Stalled.