President Donald Trump holds a signed memorandum to expand the offshore drilling moratorium to Florida's Atlantic coast, Georgia and South Carolina after speaking at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. At left is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Caption
President Donald Trump holds a signed memorandum to expand the offshore drilling moratorium to Florida's Atlantic coast, Georgia and South Carolina after speaking at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. At left is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he plans to expand a moratorium on offshore drilling to include the Atlantic coasts of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. 

He also said he is extending the moratorium – which currently covers the eastern Gulf of Mexico and is set to expire in 2022 – by 10 years. 

The decision is a reversal for Trump, who has previously supported expanding offshore drilling in the Atlantic. He announced the change at a campaign rally in Florida, where many have voiced opposition to offshore drilling.

"It's an order that does so much for the state of Florida. It's an order that I'm so proud to sign," Trump said. "And this protects your, your beautiful Gulf and your beautiful ocean, and it will for a long time to come."

Alice Keyes of the Georgia environmental group One Hundred Miles welcomed the surprise announcement.

“Whatever motivated him to make the announcement today, whether it’s the election or finally hearing the voices of the people, whatever it is, it is a very good – it’s a step in the right direction,” Keyes said.

Keyes called Trump’s overall record on the environment “horrendous.” 

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden questioned Trump's motives, saying, "With 56 days until the election, he conveniently says that he changed his mind."

Among other moves that have drawn widespread criticism from environmentalists, Trump had previously proposed expanding offshore drilling in the Atlantic, along with seismic testing for oil that many oppose as harmful to wildlife.

Twenty-two cities and counties on the Georgia coast have passed resolutions against offshore drilling.

The state House of Representatives also passed a resolution opposing drilling in 2019.