Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

White House: Flip-flop on Florida offshore drilling not a 'political favor'

White House: Flip-flop on Florida offshore drilling not a 'political favor'

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford, whose [districts] include parts of coastal SC including Charleston, also derided the Florida exemption in an interview with CNN. The administration has surrendered any reason to refuse.

The Trump administration on Tuesday removed the waters off Florida - and only Florida - from the list of areas newly open to offshore drilling, and in doing so made a compelling case that the ME coast should be removed as well.

The Trump administration may have violated federal law by exempting Florida from a national plan to expand offshore drilling, a Democratic senator charged Thursday. Immediately after their face-to-face in Tallahassee Tuesday, Zinke announced he would remove Florida waters from his drill-everywhere-else map. "As I said last summer, not off our coast".

Unlike other extreme Trump administration proposals, offshore oil drilling has always been opposed by coastal state residents and their elected representatives, including many Republicans. But Zinke's claim that Florida is unique is flat-out wrong.

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Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina, also a Democrat, Tweeted on Tuesday morning "Not Off Our Coast", with a link to Zinke's Tuesday night decision on Florida.

Seeking a similar exemption for California, the state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, used some of Zinke's own words to tweet, "California is also "unique" & our "coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.' Our 'local and state voice" is firmly opposed to any and all offshore drilling".

"The waters off Maine's coast provide a healthy ecosystem for our state's fisheries and support a vigorous tourism industry, both of which support thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue for ME each year", said a statement from Collins and Sen. In addition, North Carolina has over 300 miles of coastline, 2.3 million acres of estuarine waters, and over 10,000 miles of estuarine shoreline. "We can not take a chance with those resources, those industry and that economy". "As a result of discussion with Gov. Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms". Why should Scott's be the only one heeded? In his written statement, Zinke described Scott as a "straightforward leader that can be trusted". Tim Kaine, D-Va. "Is it because the governor of Florida is a Republican and the Virginia governor is a Democrat?" Trump handed him a political prize.

According to Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress and former deputy chief of staff in Obama's Interior Department, Zinke's Twitter announcement that Florida will be exempt undermines the process of the drafting of the final drilling plan.

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These matters usually require years of study, taking into consideration the likely size and location of oil and gas deposits, ocean depth, currents, weather conditions, frequency of major storms and other factors. Here's a roundup of how the plan has been received in regions that have historically opposed offshore oil and gas exploration.

Lawmakers and governors of other states were outraged.

Some supporters say the potential economic development benefits outweigh the costs. One can not help but compare this episode to the tax bill Mr. Trump just signed, which strips deductions from taxpayers in blue states in order to fund various GOP ideological priorities.

When asked if the exemption for Florida was a political favor for Scott, Sanford said "it certainly looks, smells, and feels that way".

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