Governor Cooper urges Trump Administration to exempt NC from offshore drilling plan

15 January 2018, 12:09 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Thumbs up: California will be next, right? sArtHead = "Thumbs up: California will be next, right?"

Oil industry slams Zinke for closing Florida waters to offshore drilling

A Democratic senator says the Trump administration may have violated federal law by exempting Florida from a national plan to expand offshore drilling.

The sudden reversal Tuesday by the Department of Interior to drop Florida from a draft proposal to expand US offshore drilling sparked criticism from other coastal state leaders also opposed. Rick Scott held a private meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Zinke said Florida's coast is different from others in that it is primarily used for recreation.

"Make no mistake about it, Ryan Zinke's decision - if true - to remove Florida from the draft offshore drilling plan was a purely political move to aid the ambitions of Rick Scott".

Democrats from coastal states accuse Zinke and Trump of punishing states with Democratic leaders while rewarding Republicans. Henry McMaster (R), who backed President Trump in his state's competitive 2016 primary said that the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our magnificent coastline.

Florida has become the first USA state to secure an undertaking from the government that no new offshore drilling permits will be issued for its coastline to protect its tourism industry.

It might surprise Zinke to learn that California has a handsome and unique coast too - one that is the foundation of an $18-billion coastal tourism industry, according to a five-year-old federal study.

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. "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". Although Cameron did not identify the total amount of funding affected by the new policy, and the department declined to comment on the matter, former Interior officials said hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures probably would be affected.

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In addition to Democrats, many Republicans have also decried the change by the Trump administration and the Florida exemption.

On Twitter, several governors, attorneys general and lawmakers representing coastal states asked Zinke to extend the exemption for Florida to their coastal waters.

Deep-sea oil drilling off nearly all coastlines in the United States, both on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, are being given the green light by the Trump administration.

Zinke told the Post that meeting was the first in a "series of conversations" with other governors from both parties but as of Wednesday morning his spokesperson said they had not received requests from any governors and did not know if he had any other meetings scheduled. But by moving forward with a new offshore leasing proposal, the administration is seemingly sidelining the concerns of those who spoke out against offshore drilling as part of the current five-year plan.

'New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either, ' New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Wednesday.

"Look. Local voices have already spoken about this in Virginia and said we don't want it".

Also keep in mind that the risks of oil spills off DE and New Jersey remain significant, due to large amount of tanker traffic and the lightering that takes place when shipments are moved from supertankers. "Bill Nelson has made this about politics", said National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Katie Martin.

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