Sanford Blasts Administration’s Call To Expand Offshore Drilling

Juliegrace Brufke | Capitol Hill Reporter

Republican South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford said Thursday he opposes the Trump administration’s proposal to expand offshore drilling over the course of the next five years.

While a large number of Republicans support President Donald Trump’s call to allow for oil and gas drilling in roughly 90 percent of all U.S. waters, Sanford said he feels localities should have more control over what’s happening in federal waters off their coasts.

“Whether you are for or against offshore drilling, I think we could all agree that locals should have some degree of voice on what happens in their backyard,” he said in a statement. “Accordingly, I think it speaks very loudly that every single coastal municipality in South Carolina – and over 140 municipalities along the East Coast – have formally opposed oil and gas development off the Atlantic coast.”

The administration argues the vast expansion will help expand the energy sector and boost job creation in the United States, but critics say it could be detrimental to the environment and have a negative impact on tourism in their states.

“Unfortunately, this proposal explicitly ignores local opposition because it is the single largest expansion of offshore drilling activity ever proposed. In the case of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, drilling hasn’t been allowed in over thirty years,” Sanford continued. “I don’t think the arguments in favor of changing this policy are there, particularly when weighed against what most engineers suspect would be at most a four-month supply of oil reserves for our country.”

The South Carolina conservative isn’t the only prominent Republican to express concerns over the proposal. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he doesn’t feel permitting offshore drilling off the coast of the Sunshine State is in its best interest.

“Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of the Interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling – which is something I oppose in Florida,” he said in a statement. “I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration. My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected, which is why I proposed $1.7 billion for the environment in this year’s budget.”

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