U.S. offshore drilling: Florida wins exemption from Trump plan

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke steps from Air Force One as U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City Utah U.S

The Trump administration said Tuesday it would not allow oil drilling off the coast of Florida, abruptly reversing course under pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The Trump administration announced last week it was considering opening up nearly the entire outer continental shelf to drilling and received bipartisan opposition across state lines.

"For Floridians we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, which clearly the governor has expressed that's important", Zinke said, adding that he knew when he announced the drilling plan last week that it would spark discussion across the country.

"Make no mistake about it, Ryan Zinke's decision - if true - to remove Florida from the draft offshore drilling plan was a purely political move to aid the ambitions of Rick Scott".

Other governors also voiced not-in-my-backyard opposition to expanding offshore drilling.

Florida Democrats and Republicans in Congress, including Representatives Buchanon, Bilirakis, Castor, Ross, and Crist, among others, signed a letter Tuesday urging the Department to reconsider its plans.

They emerged smiling and Scott, a probable candidate for U.S. Senate with close ties to Trump, called it "historic".


Maryland, South Carolina and MA are among states with Republican governors also known to oppose the Draft Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Programme (2019-2024).

"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. While Zinke was still making his announcement, the Republican governor said in a statement that he "asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan". I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.

"I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts".

The program "proposes the largest number of lease sales in USA history", and opens 98 percent of recoverable oil and gas reserves in federally-controlled waters to development, according to the Interior Department.

Nineteen sales would be off Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific, including six off California.

But opposition from Florida politicians concerned about oil spills fouling beaches as well as crippling the state's tourism economy helped put that area off limits long ago, and a federal law now blocks new leasing through 2022.

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