The Trump administration said Tuesday that it would not seek to bring oil and gas drilling to the waters off Florida, conceding to vocal opposition from the Republican governor of the tourism-driven state. "As a result of discussion with Governor (Rick) Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms".
"I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts", Nelson said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.
"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver", Zinke said in a statement. "But now, suddenly, Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida's coast and four days later agrees to 'take Florida off the table'?"
"This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott, who has wanted to drill off Florida's coast his entire career", Nelson continued. "The effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster hit Florida tourism especially hard, despite oil only reaching the easternmost parts of the Florida panhandle". "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".
Other Republican governors also oppose the plan, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker.
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. Obama's 2017-2022 plan would be replaced by the new program when it is finalized.
"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.
Oceana, an environmental lobby group, said it was pleased that Zinke had removed Florida from areas open to drilling.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week unveiled a proposal that would roll back offshore drilling restrictions and open dozens of sites for potential leases.
Congress could intervene; Congresswoman Kathy Castor recently proposed a federal ban on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within 125 miles of the Florida coastline. "We shouldn't be playing politics with the future of Florida".
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