- Republicans and Democrats in Florida found something they can agree on: they're against offshore oil drilling on the Florida Gulf coast.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced the next step for responsibly developing the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024, which proposes to make over 90 percent of the total OCS acreage and more than 98 percent of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to consider for future exploration and development.
"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver".
"I am removing Florida from consideration from any new oil and gas platforms".
The plan would open vast areas through the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, including new potential leases off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. "This proposed plan shows our commitment to a vibrant offshore energy economy that supports the thousands of men and women working in the offshore energy industry, from supply vessels to rig crews".
"Such a quick reversal begs the question: Will the Trump administration give equal consideration to all the other coastal Governors from both parties who overwhelmingly reject this radical offshore drilling plan?"
"Overton says tourists were scared to come to Florida after the 2010 spill, and now he pays close attention to anything that might impact what he sees as 'the Florida brand". "Just because we may differ on issues from time to time doesn't mean that we can't have an incredibly strong and good relationship".
Republican governors including Maryland's Larry Hogan and South Carolina's Henry McMaster have balked at offshore drilling, while the practice is anathema in Democratic-leaning California and northeastern states.
Florida state waters extend 3 nautical miles from the shore on the Atlantic, and 9 nautical miles on the Gulf side, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"Our tactic was open everything up, then meet with the governors, meet with the stakeholders so that when we shaped it, it was right", he told reporters at a news conference Tuesday night. "The president made it very clear that local voices count".
Zinke traveled to Florida to meet with Scott, Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said.
"For Floridians we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, which clearly the governor has expressed that's important", Zinke said, adding that he knew when he announced the drilling plan last week that it would spark discussion across the country.
The Defense Department has also raised concerns about opening drilling that had been banned off the eastern Gulf of Mexico, where military exercises are held.
Industry groups praised the announcement, the most expansive offshore drilling proposal in decades. The plan follows Trump's executive order in April encouraging more drilling rights in federal waters, part of the administration's strategy to help the U.S. achieve "energy dominance" in the global market.
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