Northam requests Virginia exemption from Trump administration offshore drilling plan

Illustration by Mark Buzek  The Palm Beach Post

Multiple states are asking to be exempt from offshore drilling after the Trump administration said on Tuesday that Florida won't be considered for a major planned expansion.

Zinke's decision has led to extensive complaints by other coastal governors who have already staked out not-in-my-backyard opposition to expanding offshore drilling, often on the same tourism concerns Florida has.

The decision to exempt Florida could also open the Trump administration to legal challenges, allowing states not exempted to complain that the decision is arbitrary because one state was left off the list because Zinke talked with the governor.

California's state government has opposed offshore drilling for almost 50 years, despite the presence of lucrative fossil fuel deposits, following an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969.

After the news broke about Republican-governed Florida, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked whether there are different rules for blue states like California. "Or is that not enough for blue states?"

Opposition to the Trump administration's plan to expand offshore drilling mounted Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.

Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also blasted the turnaround, retweeting a video from the Interior Department in which Zinke announced the move with Scott, adding: "Is this thing on?"

"If local voices matter why haven't they excluded Virginia?" asked Sen.

The real question now is will states who want no part of the offshore oil drilling deal sue to get what Florida got.

The governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington all have opposed offshore drilling plans.

"We can not afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline in South Carolina", McMaster said. The group called the Florida withdrawal "premature" and said restricting access to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in particular "puts hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk across the country and along the Gulf Coast".

She says it appears that the Republicans want to steal some thunder from Nelson on this issue.

"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver", Zinke said in a statement.

And despite proclamations about wanting to hear from coastal residents as they finalize a decision, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management apparently does not plan to hold hearings in most of the very coastal communities that would be most impacted, as they have done in the past even though they have promised to conduct an open and public process. The Interior Department's five-year plan would open 90 percent of the nation's offshore oil reserves to development by private companies.

Republican Congressman Walter Jones opposes drilling.

Scott's office said he repeatedly voiced his opposition to drilling to Zinke, including at an October meeting in Washington.

"Our coastal beaches are really important to Oregonians".

Following is a statement from Lisa Pohlmann, executive director, Natural Resources Council of Maine, in response to the proposal to open Maine waters to drilling:The Trump Administration today released a unsafe five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing in the Atlantic Ocean - including off the coast of Maine, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Arctic Ocean.

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