Senator: Florida drilling exemption may be illegal

Senator: Florida drilling exemption may be illegal

Florida Republicans who protested the Trump administration's plan to open almost all coastal waters to drilling cheered a vow from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that their state would be "off the table" in the new plans going forward.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, told reporters in South Carolina he plans to ask the Trump administration for an exemption, calling it "a matter of serious importance".

The administration will not allow drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Florida after urging from the state's governor, Zinke said on Tuesday.

Following is a statement from Lisa Pohlmann, executive director, Natural Resources Council of Maine, in response to the proposal to open Maine waters to drilling:The Trump Administration today released a unsafe five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic Ocean - including off the coast of Maine, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean.

In addition to Scott's sudden reversal of his previous position on offshore drilling, eight Republican representatives from Florida expressed their opposition and were joined by Sen.

Scott said he was pleased at the administration's change of heart.

The announcement prompted stiff opposition from governors from both parties on the coasts.

Two of the three are Republicans, including Rep. Mark Sanford, a former governor who said Zinke had set a precedent by honoring Florida's request for an exemption. On his campaign website then, Scott called for more drilling offshore but said that the state's beaches must be protected. Shortly after the announcement, however, the president backed off his proposed drilling near the shores of the Sunshine State.

A Florida senator at the center of the debate over offshore drilling under the Trump administration said the Interior Department's latest plans lack clarity.

Political analysts raised the possibility that the exemption for Florida could be meant to provide Gov. Scott with a public relations win for an upcoming election campaign.

"We don't want it here for many reasons", Commissioner Dave Eggers said.

Nelson released a statement the evening of January 9 calling Zinke's announcement a "political stunt" by the Trump administration created to make Scott look good.

The state Department of Environmental Protection sent an August 17 letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management raising concerns about the effects of oil and gas activities on the environment, but did not expressly oppose the drilling proposal. But even Scott recognizes the damage that spills, not to mention ugly rigs, could do to Florida's resorts, its wildlife tourism and its seafood industry. "Florida's coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we should not jeopardize the state's economy or environment by gambling on operations that lack adequate safeguards".

Nelson dismissed Zinke's decision Tuesday as a "political stunt". "I believe courts will strike this down", wrote Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) in a statement.

Northam's letter asked "that the same exemption be made for the Commonwealth of Virginia".

California experienced one of the worst oil spills in US history in 1969, from an offshore drilling site near Santa Barbara, as member station KPCC notes.

Among those governors were Republicans: Larry Hogan of Maryland, Henry McMaster of SC and Charles Baker of MA.

It might surprise Zinke to learn that California has a handsome and unique coast too - one that is the foundation of an $18-billion coastal tourism industry, according to a five-year-old federal study.

The U.S. oil industry association, the American Petroleum Institute, called for the administration to follow the regular rule-making process for setting the next five-year OCS lease plan.

However, it's doubtful if ME - with only two electors - holds the same kind of political weight as a state such as Florida, whose voters sent all of its 29 electors for Trump.

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