Offshore drilling threatens important ME industries


Gov. Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have fought almost every single major Trump administration policy, and have held out California's liberal policies as an alternative model for America to follow.

In Washington, they include Democratic Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., called Trump's plan "a complete non-starter".

He pushed for a dramatic reversal in offshore drilling policy, then accommodated the request from Rick Scott, the GOP governor of Florida (where the president's Mar-a-Lago resort is located) for a special carve-out. Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, referring to a 1946 law governing major regulatory changes said that the Administrative Procedure Act constrains that an equitable reasoning behind agency decisions, and they can not be unpredictable and inconsistent.

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

"We are outraged", she said.

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"I don't want your kids ever to fight on foreign shores for a resource we have here", said Zinke after the meeting with Scott.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan would bolster the country's economy and energy security while funding conservation efforts. After Zinke's announcement, Scott said he'd, quote, "never stopped fighting for Florida's environment and our pristine coastline".

"Our coastal beaches are really important to Oregonians".

"Meanwhile, environmental organizations are alarmed and stress that it could place wildlife and coastal communities at risk of a spill".

And Florida is where Trump has a winter home in Palm Beach. "As I said last summer, not off our coast". Kaine said. "Are they putting Florida off-limits because President Trump has a vacation property - Mar-a-Lago - on the Atlantic coast of Florida and he worries about the environmental risk there, but he's not anxious about environmental risk in Virginia?"

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Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub said Zinke's decision to exempt Florida from the drilling plan appears to be a conflict of interest for Trump.

With states and environmentalists expected to strongly oppose and even sue, the timeline for the final program approval could be further pushed off, and it's possible that there will be no lease sales-let alone drilling-in the next few years.

Fearing for his own political future in a divided congressional district, Representative Lee Zeldin, an early Trump supporter, quickly distanced himself from the offshore oil decision after it was announced. The exemption, said environmental lawyers, weakened the legal authority of the drilling plan, and prompted new voices of opposition. This isn't about politics. Several governors, including leaders of Washington state, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maryland, asked for their states to be withdrawn from the plan and requested meetings with Zinke.

Now that the Trump administration has announced plans to allow new oil and gas drilling leases in more federal waters, a number of states are petitioning to be exempt from the change.

Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift on Thursday released a statement that described the five-year draft plan for offshore drilling as an "open and public process" and said there will be revisions.

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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a statement Wednesday that the drilling "would have been disastrous to Florida's economy, the environment, and, most importantly, to the readiness of America's armed forces".