U.S. senators from 12 states seek offshore drilling exemptions like Florida’s

Ryan Zinke

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – Twenty-two Democratic U.S. senators from 12 states yesterday joined the chorus of local representatives seeking exemptions from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s newly proposed offshore drilling plan, after his surprise move on Tuesday to shield Florida.

Zinke surprised lawmakers, governors, and industry groups on Tuesday night by announcing that Florida would be removed from the Interior Department’s proposal to open up over 90 percent of federal waters to oil and gas leasing.

Zinke had met in Tallahasee with Republican Governor Rick Scott who told the Interior chief that drilling puts his state’s coastal tourism economy at risk. Scott is widely expected to challenge Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

The White House dismissed suggestions that Florida’s exemption was a political favor to Scott. “I am not aware of any political favor that that would have been part of,” spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

“Just like Florida, our states are unique with vibrant coastal economies,” wrote the 22 senators, who include Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California. “Providing all of our states with the same exemption from dangerous offshore oil and gas drilling would ensure that vital industries from tourism to recreation to fishing are not needlessly placed in harm’s way,” they wrote.

Ryan Zinke

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said Zinke intends to meet with every coastal governor affected by the agency’s proposed offshore drilling plan, a process that could take a year.

Democrats are not alone in pressuring Zinke to exempt their states from drilling. South Carolina’s Republican Governor Henry McMaster asked Zinke for an exemption, citing the value of his state’s coastal tourist economy.

Maine Governor Paul LePage and Alaska Governor Bill Walker are the only coastal state governors who support the expansion of offshore drilling, with many of the rest seeking exemptions in the wake of the Florida decision.

Zinke’s abrupt announcement on Florida also took industry groups by surprise.

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Randall Luthi called the move “disappointing and premature” while American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said it puts thousands of jobs at stake.

Industry groups and companies told Reuters last week that the eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the southern Atlantic were most attractive to drillers despite 90 percent of federal waters being on offer.

The Interior Department has declined to answer repeated requests for detail on which parts of those areas might be off limits due to Florida’s exemption – saying only “all of Florida.”

Comments  

Castro nears retirement as Cuban president, lawmakers vote on successor

HAVANA,  (Reuters) – Cuba’s Raul Castro was just hours away from retiring as president yesterday, with his vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel set to replace him in a shift that will usher in the island’s first non-Castro leader since the 1959 revolution.

Ecuador opens probe of ex-President Correa over debt operations

QUITO, (Reuters) – Ecuador’s state prosecutors’ office said on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation of former President Rafael Correa and 10 former officials for alleged mismanagement of public debt during the last five years of his administration.

Despite changes after 2012 horror, India’s rape victims denied speedy justice

NEW DELHI,  (Reuters) – India launched fast-track courts and a tougher rape law that included the death penalty after a gruesome assault on a young woman shocked the country in 2012, but crime statistics indicate the situation has got worse, not better, since then.

British PM May dealt embarrassing Brexit defeat in parliament’s upper house

LONDON,  (Reuters) – Britain’s upper house of parliament inflicted an embarrassing defeat on Theresa May’s government yesterday, challenging her refusal to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×