Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke promised to meet with all state governors affected by his proposal to open up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to offshore drilling, The Washington Examiner reports.
Zinke revealed a plan last week to open 90 percent of the OCS to oil exploration. Millions of acres of ocean along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Gulf of Mexico, and parts of the Arctic Ocean would be open to oil exploration and potential development.
The announcement, already criticized in its lead-up, met immediate resistance from coastal governors. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, requested a meeting with the Interior secretary that resulted in Zinke announcing he would remove Florida’s coastal waters from consideration, citing affects to Florida’s tourism industry.
Other state officials immediately seized on Zinke’s apparent backtracking to demand their own sections of the OCS be removed from the plan.
.@SecretaryZinke: 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.
If that’s your standard, we, too, should be removed from your list. Immediately. https://t.co/T6W6JaPCPh
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) January 10, 2018
Many coastal governors, including every governor on the West Coast, are against OCS oil exploration. Zinke will take at least a year to meet with all governors opposed to his plan, according to The Washington Examiner.
Zinke’s capitulation to Scott may be an example of the secretary’s willingness to listen to local voices, but could also be politically motivated, as well, The Washington Post reports.
Scott has voiced interest in running against Florida’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and potentially flipping a seat for the GOP and President Donald Trump’s agenda. Standing up to Zinke and blocking out oil exploration along his state’s coastline has given Scott a major environmental achievement to tout to Floridians, should he run.
The oil and gas industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) called Zinke’s Florida decision “premature.”
“Americans support increased domestic energy production, and the administration and policymakers should follow the established process before making any decisions or conclusions that would undermine our nation’s energy security,” API CEO Jack Gerard said in a statement Wednesday.
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