NY, NJ want Trump administration to exempt states from offshore drilling

Doris Richards
January 12, 2018

The administration has surrendered any reason to refuse.

The Trump administration announced sweeping deregulation last week to allow offshore oil and gas drilling in all previously protected waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans-but days later, after lawmakers in the affected states complained, the administration changed its mind: for Florida only. Zinke said he made the decision after Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, objected.

"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver", Zinke said. But he also said he would seek input from state and local leaders. But legal experts are pointing out another major flaw in Zinke's hasty exemption: it's likely illegal.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan would open up 90 percent of the country's outer continental shelf to oil and gas leasing, including an area off the coasts of OR and Washington. He added "working coasts" like Louisiana are "very much different than a recreation-centric coast that's in Florida" and will still be subject to drilling. Commercial fishing brings in another $95 million every year.

The argument that offshore oil and gas exploration harms tourism is the same one that has been made by dozens of coastal North Carolina communities.

We support the oil industry taking advantage of opportunities to tap into the nation's vast resources, but we also acknowledge the need for oversight to ensure the safety of the environment, the people and the coastal economies dependant on oil-free waters.

"The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the administration to consider several specific factors in developing an offshore oil and gas leasing plan in light of national energy needs and the risks of offshore drilling".

That voice is expressed just as clearly by Cooper, McMaster and many other governors as it was by Scott.

Scott's announcement came as the term-limited Republican governor is poised to potentially run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Trump handed him a political prize.

Meanwhile, as Governing notes, it's a little surprising that the Trump administration opted to make an exception for Florida - not just because of the backlash from other states but because of the potential profit in the eastern Gulf, right off Florida's coast. In other words, more than a quick meeting with a favorite governor. This means that ME communities, fishermen, and coastal residents could be exposed to significant new dangers from oil pollution.

Unlike Florida, California's executive is a Democrat-Jerry Brown-and the state voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Dare County Commissioners Chairman Woodard, however, pushed back against claims of widespread voter support for more offshore drilling, calling them "absurd".

The decision also protects tourism in Bay County, which Dan Rowe, President of the Tourist Development Council said was devastated after the Deep Horizon oil spill in 2010. For example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, an ally of President Trump, doesn't want the waters off Florida's coastline to be part of the administration's plan.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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