Offshore drilling threatens important ME industries

Offshore drilling threatens important ME industries

Kerry Wise
January 15, 2018

With less than a week to go in office and part of his legacy on the line, Gov. Chris Christie has called out President Donald Trump over his administration's unilateral call to open the entire East Coast to offshore energy drilling.

Nearly as soon as Zinke touched down in the Sunshine State, Florida was exempted from the sweeping effort to open US waters to oil and gas drilling.

Florida state waters extend 3 nautical miles from the shore on the Atlantic, and 9 nautical miles on the Gulf side, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Florida was not among the states that requested exclusion from the drilling plan past year, including California, Oregon, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington.

A Zinke spokeswoman said he's willing to meet with any governor who wants to discuss the policy, and that Scott was the first to ask.

Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, said Zinke did "not justify discriminatory agency action in favour of Florida over other states" and offered "no evidence other governors can't be trusted".

Filmmaker and outspoken Trump critic Michael Moore-who threatened to frack off the coast of the president's Florida vacation home after offshore drilling expansion was announced-also responded to the state's removal from the proposal.

Brown said the OR coast generated $2 billion in revenue through tourism and other industries previous year.

Political analysts raised the possibility that the exemption for Florida could be meant to provide Gov. Scott with a public relations win for an upcoming election campaign.

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"I think it's up to the states to decide", Tillis said. "But there's places where resources are sensitive, and there's places where we're not going to go forward with [drilling for oil] and one of them is off the coast of Florida".

But drilling off the OR coast may not yield much, if previous reports are any indication.

"This proposal mirrors past proposals that have run into a buzzsaw of state opposition", David Hayes, who was the Interior Department's deputy secretary and COO during periods of the Clinton and Obama administrations, told Inside Climate News, commenting on the initial draft plan proposal.

The reaction from the state's Republicans on Capitol Hill was a bit more muted, while environmentalists and some coastal officials urged the governor to push for an exemption similar to the one the Trump administration recently granted Florida Gov. Rick Scott. 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. "Bill Nelson, it looks like a political play to make Rick Scott look like some sort of a hero", Glickman said.

Supporters of offshore drilling argue it's needed for the country's energy independence and will create jobs.

Coastal states, also tend to be on the blue side, leading to speculation that Zinke's decision was politically motivated.

Oceana, an environmental lobby group, said it was pleased that Zinke had removed Florida from areas open to drilling. Put simply, we're sitting on a bunch of accessible oil and gas. "Our coastal beaches are really important to Oregonians", she said. "The president makes it very clear that local voices count, states count". The decision, announced Tuesday in a tweet, appeared to circumvent a detailed process laid out in federal law and came without any detailed explanation to justify the changes.