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article imageTrump administration exempts Florida from offshore drilling

By Karen Graham     Jan 10, 2018 in Politics
Washington - Under pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday that he won’t allow offshore drilling in waters near Florida through 2024.
Zinke's decision came after meeting with Governor Scott earlier in the day Tuesday to discuss the governor's objections to drilling off Florida's coast, according to The Hill.
Digital Journal reported on Monday that Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott, who previously opposed protections put in place by the Obama administration, objected to the Interior Department's proposal to open Florida waters to offshore drilling, as well as Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. 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.
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the interior  Ryan Zinke  has said clim...
President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, has said climate change is not a hoax
ALEX WONG, Getty/AFP/File
Zinke's reversal on Florida drilling actually highlights the importance of the state to Trump's political aspirations. He barely won the state's 29 electoral votes in 2016, according to the Associated Press.
The decision comes just five days after Zinke announced in a statement, "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."
Florida not alone in opposing opening coasts to drilling
In a bipartisan show of force, the governors of all the states along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts have joined Scott in calling for their shorelines to be removed from Zinke’s plan, but Zinke has not ruled any other area out at this stage in the process.
Tim Kaine at the Democratic National Convention 2016
Tim Kaine at the Democratic National Convention 2016
Disney/ ABC Telivision
“Virginia’s governor (and governor-elect) have made this same request, but we have not received the same commitment,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) tweeted Tuesday, referring to incumbent Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and incoming Gov. Ralph Northam (D). “Wonder why…”
A few hours later, Kaine Tweeted: "Local voices in Virginia have also spoken up. This would hurt our coastal economies and threaten our naval operations in Norfolk. If it’s truly about “local voice” — not just protecting President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago — then make this same commitment for Virginia."
In the Northeast, there is the real fear of oil spills behind the arguments against Trump's plan to tap all the domestic oil and gas it can in pursuit of U.S. dominance in the global energy markets.
Augusta  the capital of Maine.
Augusta, the capital of Maine.
Terry Ross
On Monday, Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent, wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, citing the environmental fragility of the state's $1.7 billion lobster industry as being more important than offshore drilling.
Massachusetts, Senator Ed Markey is also opposed to Zinke's plan, stating, “The Trump administration’s plan would be to turn the waters off of Massachusetts and every coastal state in the country into a fossil fuel free-for-all, and would threaten Massachusetts’ fishing industry, our tourism industry and the environment with the threat of an oil spill.”
The governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint statement calling the proposal “a political decision” that “flies in the face of decades of strong opposition … from Republicans and Democrats alike.” The governors promised to “do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action."
More about Offshore drilling, Florida, northeast governors, Energy policy, Interior department
 
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