The Washington Post reports:
The Trump administration’s decision to exempt Florida from expanded offshore drilling kicked off a frenzy Wednesday in other coastal states, with governors from both political parties asking: Why not us?
“We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who backed President Trump in his state’s competitive 2016 primary, said in a statement.
“Not Off Our Coast,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote in a tweet. “We’ve been clear: this would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities.”
The Florida carve-out, announced Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, created new doubts about the fate of the entire offshore drilling decision — and immediately became another challenge for Republicans as they work to hold off Democrats in the midterm elections.
Zinke’s announcement that he would take offshore drilling “off the table” in order to protect Florida’s tourism industry was dismissed by critics as political theater designed to benefit Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is likely to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for his seat this year.
California state officials plan to make their case to Interior using the same arguments as Florida, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told POLITICO. The state also boasts a huge coastal tourism economy and, like Florida, hosts military bases whose operations could be disrupted by oil spills or offshore drilling operations.
In a statement, the powerful American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday’s reversal was “premature,” and it said “the administration and policymakers should follow the established process before making any decisions or conclusions that would undermine our nation’s energy security.”
Politifact weighs in:
During his first campaign for governor in 2010, Scott called for drilling offshore. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, he added language to his campaign website to state that he wanted drilling done in an “environmentally sound way and adhering to the strictest of safety standards.”
During his first term, Scott took no meaningful steps to expand drilling. But when Trump’s administration proposed an expansion of offshore drilling Jan. 4, Scott said he opposed the idea and sought a meeting with Zinke. That rejection sounds different from his stance when he first ran for governor in 2010 and he was open to drilling. We give Scott a Full Flop.