Florida Is Off the Offshore Drilling Expansion Table. Now Other States Want Off Too.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Steve Cannon / AP Photo


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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s new exemption for the Sunshine State will likely lead to lawsuits over its arbitrary nature.

After Florida Gov. Rick Scott briefly met with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the Tallahassee airport on Tuesday and convinced him to remove the state from the Trump administration’s offshore drilling proposal for the outer continental shelf, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted the same treatment.

He wasn’t alone.

“If exceptions are being made for other states, the Governor will certainly pursue the same type of exception for New Jersey,” read a statement from Gov. Chris Christie’s office, adding he intended to consult with the state’s attorney general about protecting its coastline.

In fact, of the 12 states that requested the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management exclude them from expanded offshore drilling last year, only governors from California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia remained silent on Florida receiving an exemption through 2024. Florida was not one of those 12 states, but President Trump does own the beachfront Mar-a-Lago resort there.

Zinke’s decision likely opens the draft plan up to legal challenges that it is arbitrary and capricious, considering all other coastal states rely on that asset for tourism and their economies as well.

Scott was quick to express displeasure with drilling proposal for Florida’s coast when Zinke announced the draft plan earlier this month.

On Tuesday during an address in Washington, D.C., American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard praised the five-year proposal for looking at planning areas that haven’t been evaluated for offshore drilling for 30 years in some cases.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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