Ryan Zinke removes Florida from offshore drilling plan

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 9, 2018 at 8:45 PM
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Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The Trump administration reversed plans to include Florida in an offshore drilling proposal announced last week.

Interior Secretary Zinke held a press conference at the Tallahassee airport announcing the Trump administration will not be drilling off the coast of Florida after he and Gov. Rick Scott held a private meeting Tuesday afternoon.

"Florida is obviously unique," Zinke said. "The president has tasked me to develop an energy policy offshore but also taking into consideration local and state interests."

Scott called the meeting with Zinke "historic" and thanked him for reversing the decision.

"I'm appreciative that the secretary came to Tallahassee to sit down and talk about it and has committed that as a result of our interest in making sure there's no drilling here that Florida will be taken off the table," Scott said.

Zinke proposed vastly expanding offshore oil and natural gas drilling Thursday, stating most of the nation's outer continental shelf is being considered for drilling, including off the coasts of Maine, California, Florida and Alaska.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., described the reversal as "a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott" who has previously supported offshore drilling in Florida.

"I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts, but suddenly Secretary Zinke announces plans to drill off Florida's coast and four days later agrees to 'take Florida off the table?' I don't believe it," Nelson said.

Zinke said Scott's concerns about oil spills damaging Florida's beaches and tourism industry prompted the reversal. He added "working coasts" like Louisiana are "very much different than a recreation-centric coast that's in Florida" and will still be subject to drilling.

"I don't want your kids ever to fight on foreign shores for a resource we have here," Zinke said. "But there's places where resources are sensitive, and there's places where we're not going to go forward with [drilling for oil] and one of them is off the coast of Florida."

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