Gov.Scott gets the Trump administration to take a pass on oil drilling of the coasts
After some very strong pushback by Florida Gov. (R) Rick Scott the Trump administration issued a statement that it will not allow oil drilling off the coast of the Sunshine State. Despite being a strong supporter of President Donald, it was Scott who got the White House to reverse their plan to open up waters off the Gulf and Atlantic beaches for oil drilling.
The formal announcement was made by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He was in Tallahassee to meet with Scott about his concerns over the possible problems that could come from drilling off the coasts of Florida. In a statement to the press after the meeting in the state capital Zinke said after their meeting that drilling would be “off the table” when it comes to waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.
For those keeping track this is big change in what was announced just five days ago when Zinke announced the offshore drilling plan – highlights the political importance of Florida, where President Donald Trump narrowly won the state’s 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election and has encouraged Scott to run for Senate.
The key factor in convincing Zinke that drilling was a bad idea Scott spoke about how the oil drilling might threaten the states top selling point. The multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunshine and miles and miles of white sandy beaches would be put in jeopardy.
Zinke said Tuesday that “Florida is obviously unique” and that the decision to remove the state came after meetings and discussion with Scott.
Zinke announced plans last week to greatly expand offshore oil drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans, including several possible drilling operations off Florida, where drilling is now blocked. The plan was immediately met with bipartisan opposition on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Gov. Scott might be the first to change the Trump administration’s mind on offshore drilling. There are other Republican governors also oppose the plan, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker.
“For Floridians we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, which clearly the governor has expressed that’s important,” Zinke said, adding that he knew when he announced the drilling plan last week that it would spark discussion across the country.
“Our tactic was open everything up, then meet with the governors, meet with the stakeholders so that when we shaped it, it was right,” he told reporters at a news conference Tuesday night. “The president made it very clear that local voices count.”
When asked what caused the administration to change its position on Florida drilling, Zinke said bluntly, “The governor.”
Scott said he was pleased at the administration’s change of heart.
“It’s a good day for Florida,” he said, adding, “I think it’s very important to continue our efforts to take care of our environment.”
Meanwhile, there were some strong words coming out of Washington as Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said the meeting with Zinke was “a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott,” who Nelson said has long wanted to drill off Florida’s coast.
“I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts. But now, suddenly, Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida’s coast and (five) days later agrees to ‘take Florida off the table’? I don’t believe it,” Nelson said in a statement. “We shouldn’t be playing politics with the future of Florida.”
It should be noted that Scott is likely to challenge Nelson for his senate seat.
Zinke said last week that the drilling plan called for responsible development that would boost jobs and economic security while providing billions of dollars to fund conservation along U.S. coastlines.
The quotes in this story were provided by ASSOCIATED PRESS