The Trump administration announced last week that it will allow drilling in all U.S. waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic. On Tuesday evening, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced some changes from last week’s pronouncements as the Trump administration makes an exemption for Florida.
The Trump administration announced that it has decided to ban oil and gas drilling off the coast of Florida following the strong pleas from Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott.
Zinke said in his statement on Tuesday: “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver. As a result of discussion with Governor Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”
In a Twitter message where he also posted his entire statement, Zirke also said that in taking Florida off the table for offshore oil and gas, “local voice matters.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Read my full statement on taking <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Florida?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Florida</a> off the table for offshore oil and gas. Local voice matters. <a href="https://t.co/fJhv0p0CDC">pic.twitter.com/fJhv0p0CDC</a></p>— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) <a href="https://twitter.com/SecretaryZinke/status/950876846698180608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 9, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The Interior Department said last week that more than 3 billion barrels of oil are recoverable on the outer continental shelf, including more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. States will gain royalties from the extraction of such natural resources. The drilling would also create hundreds of jobs for Americans.
President Trump has consistently said that oil and gas exploration is part of his energy dominance agenda. The Trump administration, in fact, made history last month with its proposal to open nearly 77 million more acres in the Gulf of Mexico to companies wishing to buy federal oil and gas leases. It stands to be the largest offering in U.S. history.
Scott spoke against the plan of the Trump administration. Now critics are questioning Zinke for granting only Scott’s request. There are those who pointed out that 12 states specifically requested to be excluded from any offshore drilling expansion. Some also raised the fact that Florida is the only state where Trump has beachfront property suggesting a conflict of interest.
Zinke in his statement said he has great trust in Scott’s leadership having witnessed him work through hurricane season. They are also closely working together in the Everglades restoration.