Interior Secretary Zinke: Florida Offshore Oil Drilling Is 'Off The Table'

Kristopher Nichols
January 14, 2018

Zinke explained that he was directed by President Donald Trump to "rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local state voice". Zinke went on to say he personally has worked with Florida Governor Rick Scott and has "witnessed Governor Scott's leadership", as if that is a justification for exempting Florida from the Trump administration's reckless decision to grossly allow expansion of oil and gas drilling.

Scott had criticized the Trump administration's decision to support offshore oil and gas drilling on the outer continental shelf off the coasts of the US.

The governors of NY and OR and the attorneys general of Maryland and California - all Democrats - were among those who called on Zinke to ban offshore drilling.

Well, Delaware's coast is reliant on tourism as an economic driver, as well, and one significant spill could destroy this community's economy for generations.

Northam said offshore drilling would pose financial risks to Virginia.

"As we explore the expansion of domestic drilling in the USA we must ensure that we have sound policies in place that ensure the companies drilling are doing so in an environmentally sound way and adhering to the strictest of safety standards".

Among those governors were Republicans: Larry Hogan of Maryland, Henry McMaster of SC and Charles Baker of MA.

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Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., took to Twitter on Tuesday, questioning why Zinke has yet to respond to their concerns.

Ralph Northam, Virginia's governor elect, also a Democrat, said he would like to "have a word" with Zinke about Florida's apparent special status. Huffington Post reporter Jennifer Bendery tweeted, adding a sarcastic "I wonder why!" He was looking out for his own state's interests.

Zinke, in a meeting with the press, said his plan would put "more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development". Sanford said. "I mean you can't say, "I don't want to see an oil rig from Mar-A-Lago" as you look out from the waters of Palm Beach, but it's okay to look at an oil rig out from Hilton Head or Charleston, South Carolina". "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.

Jim Gross, executive director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, is also opposed to the Interior Department proposal.

Florida Republicans and Democrats - including Nelson - criticized the possibility that Florida's waters could be opened to drilling.

By contrast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington told Interior they "strongly oppose any new leasing" off their coasts and asked to be removed from the plan. That meeting was the first "in what I believe will be a series of conversations" with other governors, the secretary said.

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