Rick Scott gets Donald Trump administration to cancel oil drilling plans

Illustration by Mark Buzek  The Palm Beach Post

Illustration by Mark Buzek The Palm Beach Post

Ryan Zinke, Trump's interior secretary, announced Tuesday that Florida would be exempt from a new plan to expand offshore drilling in U.S. waters after he spoke to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"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", Scott said in a prepared statement Thursday.

"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver", he added. That conversation led to his decision to remove "Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms", Zinke announced Tuesday evening.

This month, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced plans to open up much of the Coastal U.S.to petroleum exploration, only to reverse course when it came to Florida.

It opens up more than 90% of the national outer continental shelf (OCS) for development - making more than 98% of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore areas available to private companies.

The politics of oil leases also could affect the president's standing in Florida - where Trump has political as well as economic interests such as his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Governors from other states have chimed in, as well - including Democratic New York Andrew Cuomo.

While the drilling will continue off the coasts of many southern states, local officials said the distance decreases the chances of affecting Florida waters.

In the shorter term, Cooper and other democrats face an uphill battle to convince Zinke to exempt North Carolina from the Trump Administration's drilling plan.

Democrats and environmentalists have accused Zinke of making a purely political calculation in order to bolster Scott, who may run for a US Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson, a Democrat. Offshore drilling would put our economy at risk from oil spills and seismic testing. In a press release last week, he said oil and gas drilling would have vast financial benefits, providing "billions of dollars to fund the conservation of our coastlines, public lands and parks". "For Floridians, we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, and clearly the governor has expressed that it's important".

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a statement Wednesday that the drilling "would have been disastrous to Florida's economy, the environment, and, most importantly, to the readiness of America's armed forces".

The administration of US President Donald Trump has exempted the state of Florida from controversial plans for offshore drilling for oil and gas.

"I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts". Oil drilling in ME waters would mean oil spilling in ME waters.

"The decision is apparently being made two days into a comment period for the state of Florida, but not for the numerous other states that requested the same exclusion based on the same reasoning", Sierra Weaver, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, told ThinkProgress.

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