The US offshore oil industry has launched a new public relations campaign to promote oil exploration offshore Florida. The Explore Offshore campaign, led by the American Petroleum Institute, kicked off in June this year and held its first Florida event on Wednesday.

In January, US President Donald Trump endorsed the offshore drilling of oil and natural gas in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coastal regions. The proposal has since been met with strong opposition across the US, notably in Florida. US federal Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reportedly promised that no drilling will be conducted near the state’s coastline.

In response, the oil industry has advocated for some drilling in the wider area, offshore Florida.

Explore Offshore co-chairman Jim Nicholson said in a statement: “Our American way of life and the freedoms we enjoy are undoubtedly linked to access to affordable, reliable energy.

“At the same time, 94% of America’s offshore energy resources are completely off-limits to natural gas and oil development, disallowing hundreds of thousands of American jobs and abundant domestic energy supply, and keeping us reliant on foreign sources.”

He added that under the plan no drilling rigs would be visible from the coast, saying: “Most of these offshore reserves are the same distance from land as that of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.”

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Explore Offshore co-chairman and former Republican lieutenant governor of Florida Jeff Kottkamp noted that affordable energy is essential to boost living standards in the state.

He said: “We are speaking with our local leaders throughout Florida to discuss ways to maintain our state’s natural beauty and meet the energy needs of our growing population of over 20 million residents and 110 million annual visitors.”

Instead of investing the money in offshore oil, Florida-based environmental group Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall said there is still a risk of another oil spill like Deepwater Horizon in 2010, and suggested using the money for safer alternatives.

“You could have another catastrophic spill that could threaten Florida’s economy, its ecology and environment, and the Gulf of Mexico too, which is home to many endangered and threatened species,” said Marshall.

“We should be investing money in developing renewables. We know where renewables are. Solar technology has come down remarkably [in cost]. Battery technology, that price keeps decreasing; they’re becoming more efficient, more compact.  That’s where the future lies, not in fossil fuels from the Gulf.”