Tourism industry relieved by FL offshore drilling exemption

- It's the small things that draw Stephanie Goncalves and her family to Florida each year. 

"I come to the beach to play with my kids...we don't have this. I'm from Toronto," she said.

It's s not a secret why tourists are attracted to Florida each and every year.

With miles and miles of beaches and crystal clear water, it's a given, but many say with oil rigs and the potential for a disaster they would have gone elsewhere.

"I'm an avid fisherman and the water is just so clean and pristine and clear we want to keep it that way," said Sarasota resident Jim Donato.

Last week, the Trump administration announced it would expand offshore drilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

But Tuesday night after a brief conversation with Governor Rick Scott, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Florida would be exempt.

"120 million tourists came here last year. They came here because of our beaches," said Governor Scott.

Florida's coastline stretches over 1,300 miles, dwarfing those of the other Gulf Coast states. The Governor said that makes Florida unique and worthy of protecting.

"They should treat us differently than the other states. The other states can make different choices," said Governor Scott.

The Governor's critics, including Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, complain this is about politics. 

Nelson called it a stunt saying Governor Scott has supported offshore drilling until now. Scott is expected to challenge Nelson for his Senate seat in next year's election.

"It's not about politics it's about policy and so this is a good day for our State," said Governor Scott. 

Political or not many of the Governor's critics are getting what they want. It has environmentalists breathing a sigh of relief.

"We can not afford the chance of losing what we all hold so precious. Whether its the aesthetic aspects, the cultural linkages or whether it's the economy. We just can't take that risk," said Mote Marine and Aquarium CEO and President Michael Crosby.

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