The outer continental shelf includes waters that are from 3 nautical miles from the coast to beyond 200 miles, the federal agency said. The Channel is one of those areas that could open up.
Less than a week after the Trump Administration proposed to open nearly the entire USA coast to oil and gas drilling, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke backtracked and took Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas exploration.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week removed Florida's coastal waters from a draft plan for oil and gas drilling.
If the Florida decision had been the result of a thoughtful process that ended in a report explaining how Florida's coast is somehow more precious than every other stretch of coast the Trump administration has slated to open, it would have at least appeared less capricious.
But within the lease sale area off the Washington and OR coasts, the estimated recoverable oil reserves are a modest 400 million barrels of crude, according to an Interior Department document released last week.
The Trump administration's decision to exempt Florida from expanded offshore drilling kicked off a frenzy Wednesday in other coastal states, with governors from both political parties asking: Why not us? He said on Wednesday that California will seek the same exemption.
A spokeswoman for Zinke declined immediate comment Thursday.
"Mr. President, I must say I've seen political games being played with trying to drill off of the coast of Florida", said U.S. Sen.
Environmental groups also questioned Zinke's motivations.
"It was the perception of visitors thinking the entire gulf coast was ruined, that we saw a dramatic decrease in our revenues that summer and it had a ripple effect through the entire economy", he said.
API spokesman Reid Porter said the Trump administration "should follow the established process" for developing an offshore drilling program, including public comment.
Creation of a new program for the outer continental shelf typically takes two or three years to complete, Moriarty said.
Only days into the official comment period on the Trump administration's plan to open almost all U.S. waters to offshore drilling, the administration has exposed this plan for exactly what it is - playing politics with our coast.
"Is it because the governor of Florida is a Republican and the Virginia governor and governor-elect are Democrats?"
As of right now New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington have all opposed offshore drilling plans.
Democrats from coastal states accuse Zinke and Trump of punishing states with Democratic leaders while rewarding Republicans.
Although Zinke last week opened the door to selling offshore drilling rights in more than 90 percent of US waters - from the California coast to the Atlantic seaboard - the eastern Gulf of Mexico was a top industry target.
The plan now under review by the Department of the Interior, and requested by the White House, would allow oil drilling near Florida's Gulf coastline for the first time in decades.