Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cited Florida’s robust tourism as a reason to remove the state from consideration for offshore drilling. That announcement sparked responses from other states, who want to use the same reason to get an exception.

On Tuesday, Zinke met with Gov. Rick Scott (R) at Tallahassee’s airport. Minutes later, he announced his decision, saying, “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

Following Zinke’s announcement, leaders from other coastal states wanted to know how to apply for the same “waiver.”

“We’d like a word in Virginia,” said incoming Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

“New York doesn’t want drilling off our coast either. Where do we sign up for a waiver @SecretaryZinke?” tweeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cali.) tweeted: “Dear Secretary Zinke, California like Florida, has hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way. Or is that not enough for blue states?”

As The Hill notes, Zinke may have painted himself into a corner from both a political and a legal perspective.

If the Trump administration extends the logic applied to Florida to the rest of the country, its “Energy Dominance” agenda could be in peril. 

Zinke last week proposed considering offshore oil and natural gas drilling nearly everywhere, including all along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts and in nearly every spot around Alaska, save for Bristol Bay.

The only coastal state governors who have not asked to be excluded from the drilling are in Maine, Georgia and Alaska. 

Other states and legal experts say Zinke created a new standard that should apply to any state that wants it. Any other action could give opponents legal ammunition in suing the Trump administration over its drilling plan.

Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said Zinke is listening to governors, and said Scott isn’t being granted special favors.

“The secretary has said since day one that he is interested in​ hearing​ the local voice,” she said. “​Gov. Scott requested a meeting the day the plan was released. ​If ​other governors would like to request meetings with the secretary, they are absolutely welcome to do so.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) have both requested such a meeting, as of Wednesday morning, Swift said.

 

“Citizens for Ethics” accused Zinke of exempting Florida just because President Trump owns a resort club (Mar-a-Lago) there.

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