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.
Governor Scott’s Statement on Trump Administration’s Plan on Offshore Oil Drilling: pic.twitter.com/iQqNU9afsQ
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) January 4, 2018
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) January 9, 2018
— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) January 9, 2018
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 10, 2018
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? https://t.co/vQ5Qtl8Xik
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 10, 2018
Can someone explain how the principles laid out in this Zinke statement — about the coast being a driver of tourism — somehow don’t also apply to California? https://t.co/kbyEOo69Cx
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) January 10, 2018
Maine’s oceans support countless jobs in our state, and play a major role in our economy. That’s why @SenatorCollins and I wrote to Interior Secretary Zinke today, expressing our opposition to the Department’s plan to open up the coast of Maine for offshore drilling. #mepolitics pic.twitter.com/tjMhRPU17Q
— Senator Angus King (@SenAngusKing) January 8, 2018
Comment period regarding new and expanded oil drilling off the California coast begins today https://t.co/IKVOd9kIa6. Please spread the word and comment at above link. Zinke and Current Occupant of White House deserve a big fight over this.
— Indivisible East Bay (@IndivisibleEB) January 8, 2018
“The governor has long been against offshore drilling off South Carolina’s coast,” spox Brian Symmes told me
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) January 10, 2018
Mr Zinke please consider exempting the pristine coast of Oregon from oil drilling. We are willing to pay higher prices for fuel, recycle plastics at record levels and invest heavily in solar, hydro and wind power to support our petroleum needs. pic.twitter.com/V8iz3t4ZsP
— Gueniver (@ladygueniver) January 10, 2018
There is a bipartisan legacy of protecting California’s coast from new #offshoredrilling. Now CA’s leaders must stand up to Trump and Zinke’s radical proposal to drill the entire West Coast: https://t.co/5UbfhVo6gt. #ProtectOurCoast pic.twitter.com/EZiHYA1tRJ
— CA Waterkeepers (@CA_Waterkeepers) January 9, 2018
1/2 Last week, Sec. Zinke announced a draft plan to open up more offshore territory for energy exploration. I don’t support offshore oil & gas exploration in states that don’t want it & WA’s citizens have never indicated any desire to have oil and gas activity off their coast.
— JaimeHerreraBeutler (@HerreraBeutler) January 9, 2018
Virginia’s governor (and governor-elect) have made this same request, but we have not received the same commitment. Wonder why… https://t.co/9HgvOWC1p6
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) January 10, 2018
It’s not just Democratic states getting left in the lurch. Longtime Trump ally @henrymcmaster hasn’t been able to get Zinke to back off South Carolina’s coast yet either. #scpol https://t.co/1XUNxgeFGL
— Jamie Lovegrove (@jslovegrove) January 10, 2018
“Citizens for Ethics” accused Zinke of exempting Florida just because President Trump owns a resort club (Mar-a-Lago) there.
The Trump administration is exempting Florida’s shores from new offshore drilling plans. Trump also just so happens to own a resort club on the Florida coast.https://t.co/6UFRCSzyQx
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 10, 2018