More states want to be exempted from drilling

WASHINGTON – Jan. 11, 2018 – Coastal states opposed to drilling off their shorelines clamored to be excluded from the Trump administration’s massive oil and gas expansion plan less than a day after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced he would exempt Florida because of its “unique” status.

The “us, too” chorus included officials from California, Delaware, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington who are eager to make their case to Zinke like Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott did in a face-to-face meeting Tuesday in Tallahassee.

“We’d like a word,” Democratic Gov.-elect Ralph Northam of Virginia tweeted.

“I’m going to request a meeting with SecretaryZinke to discuss the Trump Administration’s offshore drilling plan – and the risks that offshore drilling pose to #Delaware, the state’s natural resources, and our tourism economy,” John Carney, the Democratic governor of Delaware, chimed in on Twitter.

“New York doesn’t want drilling off our coast either,” Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. “Where do we sign up for a waiver SecretaryZinke?”

Zinke announced last week that he proposed opening 90 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf off the U.S. coast – including Florida – to oil and gas exploration in the largest single expansion of offshore drilling activity.

The drilling plan, covering 2019 to 2024, includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 areas identified as potential drilling regions: 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and nine in the Atlantic region.

Zinke called it a starting point and said the process to come up with a final list “will take months,” involving public hearings and meetings with stakeholders. The secretary said his agency would work with states and members of Congress who represent coastal communities to allay concerns.

He moved quickly on Florida after pushback from a number of state officials, including Scott, a Trump confidant and likely Senate candidate this year, who said he would oppose drilling off Florida’s coasts where tourism and coastal military installations are important to the state’s economy.

After flying to Tallahassee to see the governor whom he praised as “a straightforward leader that can be trusted,” Zinke announced he removed Florida from consideration because Scott convinced him “Florida is unique, and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

That spurred a pitch from Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California, who tweeted that his state also is “unique” and relies heavily on beach tourism.

Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Zinke, said the secretary is willing to listen to other governors – and frequently does on a host of agency-related issues.

Copyright © 2018, USATODAY

Comments are closed.