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13 January 2018, 07:37 | Opal Carroll
Interior Secretary Backs Down on Drilling Exploration off Florida Coast: 'Taken Off the Table,' Republican Governor Says
The reversal of the Obama-era restrictions would open more than a billion acres of water in the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling.
Senators in 12 different states are seeking to be removed from the offshore drilling expansion list.
Governors and other officials from several US coastal states ramped up pressure on the Trump administration on Wednesday to exempt their waters from an offshore drilling plan, hours after the Interior Department granted Florida's request to opt out.
Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined a group of colleagues representing coastal states Thursday to tell the Trump administration that they don't want oil and gas drilling off their coasts, and are demanding the same respect for their states that was recently given to Florida, which was granted a special exemption by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. "Brown asked for the same consideration for Oregon's "people's coast" as was given Florida", Hockaday said.
"Tourism and recreation along the DE coastline account for billions in economic activity each year, and support tens of thousands of jobs", Governor John Carney of DE, a Democrat, said in a Twitter post Wednesday morning.
"Democrats have argued that Trump and Zinke were being hypocritical by agreeing to a request by Florida's Republican governor to withdraw from the drilling plan, but not making the same accommodation to states with Democratic governors". "For Floridians, we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, and clearly the governor has expressed that it's important".
Governors and legal experts say that the drilling plan could be struck down if Zinke does not provide the same consideration to other states as he did to Florida.
The Trump administration's announcement that as of 2019, it would allow drilling for oil and gas in 47 leased sites off the USA coast - including six sites off California - produced howls of outrage.
Governor-elect Northam released a statement condemning the Trump administration's plan earlier this month. It affects at least 22 coastal states and has drawn bipartisan opposition from 15 governors and support from six governors. Providing all of our states with the same exemption from unsafe offshore oil and gas drilling would ensure that vital industries from tourism to recreation to fishing are not needlessly placed in harm's way.
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