Environmental Groups Question Motives for Florida Drilling Exemption

15 January, 2018, 00:09 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Image Offshore drilling

However, Zinke has granted Florida an exemption through 2024, according to the website.

Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said things looked a little too orchestrated when U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke traveled to Tallahassee to deliver the news to Scott that Florida would be removed from consideration. "I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms".

"For eight years, the governor has been steadfastly opposed to drilling off the New Jersey coast", Christie's press secretary Brian Murphy said.

But at least one long-time critic of offshore drilling in the state, Democrat Sen.

Randy Sturgill of Oak Island, an organizer for the non-profit environmental group Oceana, was more direct. It is something that will affect every coastal state, with the exception of Florida.

An Interior spokeswoman said Zinke talked by telephone Friday with six Democratic governors, all of whom oppose drilling off their state's coast: Govs. 'Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke?' On Tuesday night, Secretary Zinke tweeted that after meeting with Governor Rick Scott, Florida would be exempted from the plan. I can sum it up in four words: "not off our coast".

Last week, the Trump administration revealed a proposal that would open up previously protected areas to offshore drilling for oil.

Gov. Henry McMaster of SC, who endorsed Trump in his run for president back in January 2016, said that he did not support the offshore drilling decision.

Image Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Sunrise Florida in on May 2017. Wilfredo Lee AP file

He said Georgia would have ample ammunition to make the case because of the "fragile nature of the Georgia coast and marshlands and possible negative impacts on jobs associated with tourism should there ever be an accident". The damage resulted in spilling eight million gallons of oil - nearly as much as when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince Williams Sound in 1989. "If those governors would like to request meetings with the secretary, they are absolutely welcome to do so". Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, referring to a 1946 law governing major regulatory changes said that the Administrative Procedure Act constrains that an equitable reasoning behind agency decisions, and they can not be unpredictable and inconsistent.

Of all the waters in this plan, the ones in the Southeast are perhaps most in the crosshairs - and the people who live along the coast know that development in the Atlantic is fundamentally a threat to all that is special about the places they call home.

"I think it's a possibility that there's a way that it could be done that was judicious and made sense, but you've got to make sure the environment, the investment that Georgia has already made ... are protected".

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford, whose district include parts of coastal SC including Charleston, also derided the Florida exemption in an interview with CNN. Florida is at risk for offshore drilling because the Trump administration chose to put it at risk.

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.

The governors of Delaware, North Carolina and SC on Tuesday were seeking meetings with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to press their case that drilling would pose significant risks to coastal tourism, while other state representatives issued sharply worded tweets.

It's unclear whether other states could be exempted from the offshore plan.


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