Environmental Groups Question Motives for Florida Drilling Exemption

Secretary Zinke Announces Plan For Unleashing America's Offshore Oil and Gas Potential | U.S. Department of the

Governors and other officials from several U.S. coastal states ramp pressure on the Trump administration to exempt their waters from an offshore drilling plan. "Had Zinke cared about the wishes of coastal communities or how drilling off their coasts will affect them, he would have proposed a plan that shrinks drilling even further, not proposed expanding operations to almost every corner of our waters".

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week removed Florida's coastal waters from a draft plan for oil and gas drilling.

Is this thing on? "Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke", New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted.

California Rep. Adam Schiff voiced some people's opinion that the move was politically motivated, tweeting: "Dear Secretary Zinke, California like Florida, has hundreds of miles of attractive coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way". One can not help but compare this episode to the tax bill Mr. Trump just signed, which strips deductions from taxpayers in blue states in order to fund various GOP ideological priorities.

But Secretary Zinke's decision to take Florida off the table "should have his lawyers cringing", Hayes said.

The Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, a critic of offshore wind farm proposals by LIPA and others, hasn't taken a formal position on Trump's drilling decision.

Earlier this week, after a short meeting with Scott at the Tallahassee airport, Zinke said he'd changed his mind.

"President Trump has directed me to rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local and state voice".

Scott spokesman John Tupps said in a statement that the governor's success in getting the exemption had been a clear win for the state.

Other Republican coastal governors have expressed opposition to the plan as well, including South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

HENRY MCMASTER: We can not afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline in SC.

"Our tactic was open everything up, then meet with the governors, meet with the stakeholders so that when we shaped it, it was right", he told reporters at a news conference Tuesday night.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said on the Senate floor that "political games [are] being played with trying to drill off the coast of Florida".

If we genuinely care about the ocean, we should not expose it to the risks from offshore drilling - period. He noted that the bureau has scheduled a public meeting for the proposal in Richmond, "nearly 100 miles from the coastal communities that would most feel its impacts". "As I said last summer, not off our coast". The move was widely anticipated, at least since Ryan Zinke, a Montana congressman, climate change skeptic, and oil pipeline company board member, was appointed secretary of the interior past year.

The fishing and tourism industries are the backbone of our coastal economy.

Even under the existing plan, the Trump administration has announced it will offer for lease in March "all available unleased areas on the Gulf's Outer Continental Shelf", some 77 million acres across the entire Gulf, including waters off the Florida coast that had previously been protected.

Republican Congressman Walter Jones opposes drilling.

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