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12 January 2018, 08:15 | Opal Carroll
And then on Tuesday night, January 9, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinkeannounced that the waters off the Florida coast will be excluded from the new plan after he met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the Tallahassee International Airport. "I'm going to continue to fight for our environment", Scott said Wednesday at MTC.
Zinke said his decision to exempt Florida was because its coasts are unique and high tourist attractions. "I would like to thank Secretary Zinke for coming to Tallahassee today following my request for a meeting last week to hear our concerns about oil drilling off Florida's coast", Scottsaid in a statement on Tuesday.
Zinke's decision has led to extensive complaints by other coastal governors who have already staked out not-in-my-backyard opposition to expanding offshore drilling, often on the same tourism concerns Florida has.
"We can not afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline in SC", he said.
In Florida and other Gulf Coast states, memories of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster linger. We don't even quibble with Scott's pitch to take Florida out of it. A spokeswoman for Zinke says such criticism is "empty pandering" and has invited governors to seek a meeting with the secretary.
Following Zinke's announcement on Tuesday night, numerous governors, representatives, and attorneys general from states included in the proposed five-year plan argued that offshore drilling would negatively impact their coastlines and tourism industries.
API spokesman Reid Porter said the Trump administration "should follow the established process" for developing an offshore drilling program, including public comment.
The Trump administration's draft plan, unveiled by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday, would make approximately 90 percent of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf available for lease by energy developers.
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Scott is a political ally of President Donald Trump, who happens to own beachfront property in Florida.
On whether he would challenge Nelson for his Senate seat at the end of his term as governor, Scott said he still has 362 days left in office and is focused on "making sure this is a state everybody wants to live".
"I suspect he has only embraced this issue for political expedience", the environmentalist said.
Ralph Northam, Virginia's governor elect, also a Democrat, said he would like to "have a word" with Zinke about Florida's apparent special status.
The Republican governor is close friends with President Trump, so it was rare to see Scott criticize the administration's drilling expansion plans.
Like Scott, McMaster is a Republican and a Trump supporter, which is expected to weigh in his favor.
"For someone to suggest that they're protecting Florida coast when they've done nothing to move away from risky fossil fuels - which is creating climate impacts like sea level rise, which threaten our coasts", Glckman said.
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