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Maryland, Florida Take Action Against Trump OCS Drilling Plan

Maryland and Florida are moving forward with efforts designed to hamper the Trump administration's plans to expand oil and natural gas drilling in the offshore.

The Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill (HB) 1456, also known as the Offshore Drilling Liability Act, by a 115-22 vote. According to the General Assembly's website, HB 1456 also had its first reading in the state Senate on Monday.

The Maryland bill calls offshore drilling "an ultrahazardous and abnormally dangerous activity," while stipulating that individuals or companies responsible for offshore spills of oil and natural gas shall be found "strictly liable for certain damages."

In Florida, the Constitution Revision Commission (CBC) is considering an amendment to the state constitution that calls for a "prohibition on drilling for oil and natural gas in coastal waters." The measure would not, however, prohibit the transportation of oil and gas produced outside coastal waters.

Specifically, the proposed constitutional amendment -- No. 91, introduced by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch -- would amend Section 7 of Article II of the Florida Constitution. The measure was referred to the CBC's Style and Drafting Committee on Tuesday.

The 37-member CBC meets once every 20 years to examine the state constitution. Proposed constitutional amendments would appear on the November ballot and must receive support from 60% of voters to become law.

Earlier this year, the Trump administrationproposedopening more than 90% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to oil and natural gas exploration. The Department of Interior received more than 630,000 public comments over the draft proposed program (DPP) for the OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2019-2024.

Last week, DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke told a Senate panel that a new draft of the DPP would be released in the fall.

Florida was given a controversial exemption from the DPP by Zinke. Meanwhile, Maryland Attorney General (AG) Brian Frosh was among 12 AGs from coastal states that threatened to take legal action against the Trump administration should it move forward with the DPP.

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