Environmental Groups Question Motives for Florida Drilling Exemption

After opposition from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Florida would be taken off a proposal to make more than 90 percent of the outer continental shelf available by lease to energy extraction companies.

He said President Trump had directed him to "take into consideration the local and state voice" in deciding policy. Rick Scott (R) a "straightforward leader that can be trusted", and noting that "Florida is unique and its coasts are highly reliant on tourism as an economic driver", Zinke said that he would be removing Florida waters from consideration for new oil and gas platforms.

The Trump administration recently announced plans to open nearly all coastal waters to offshore drilling, except for in one state, Florida.

Zinke proposed vastly expanding offshore oil and natural gas drilling Thursday, stating most of the nation's outer continental shelf is being considered for drilling, including off the coasts of Maine, California, Florida and Alaska.

Zinke released a coinciding statement, saying the coast of Florida would be safe from offshore drilling and that the Trump administration cares about "local and state" voices. "It's unfortunate that he and his friend President Trump would manufacture a crisis to try and help his political ambitions, but in doing so they've shone a bright spotlight on Scott's long record of backing oil drilling off Florida's shores and beaches", Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein said.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said on Twitter that his state, "like Florida, has hundreds of miles of attractive coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way".

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. Marco Rubio. Zinke said after the brief meeting with Scott in Tallahassee that drilling will be "off the table" when it comes to waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.


Almost eight years ago, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the Louisiana coast, and the record oil spill that resulted also affected Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. Scott, a Trump ally, is expected to challenge U.S. Sen.

She was a guest on Anderson Cooper 360, responding to President Trump's executive order to dramatically expand the country's offshore drilling for oil and gas.

Gov. Chris Christie is calling for the Interior Department to grant New Jersey an exemption on offshore drilling rights - just like the one given to the state of Florida, The Hill is reporting. "While the decision to remove Florida from offshore drilling is a good one, the Trump administration should drop its unsafe and foolhardy plan to drill around the U.S".

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra described the proposal as a "non-starter".

"I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts", Nelson said in a statement.

It means some of the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's western coast will be exempt from drilling, but not all of it. Bill Nelson said he believes the sudden change of decision should not be credited to Governor Scott.

At the same time, officials in other coastal states want to know why Florida is exempt and not their states.


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