In brazen partisan move, Zinke exempts Florida coastal waters from oil and gas drilling plan

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Less than a week after announcing the Trump regime’s radically aggressive plan to open up 98 percent of U.S. coastal waters to drilling for oil and gas, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said Tuesday after meeting with Republican Gov. Rick Scott that offshore Florida would be excluded from the plan. His brief statement is here. Like Scott, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, and 20 members of the 27-member Florida congressional delegation had also voiced strong opposition to the plan. But Nelson is wary:

Mr. Nelson criticized the move as political posturing, and said he did not believe Mr. Zinke would fully exempt Florida from the plan. Governor Scott is expected to challenge Mr. Nelson for his Senate seat in November.

“I have spent my entire life fighting to keep oil rigs away from our coasts,” Mr. Nelson said in a statement. “But now, 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. This is a political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration to help Rick Scott.” […]

Environmental groups accused Mr. Zinke of currying political favor with Governor Scott while pushing ahead with opening up coastal waters elsewhere.

In announcing the retreat, Zinke—who had touted the opening of most coastal waters to drilling as a key element in what the regime has been promoting as “American energy dominance”—said “Florida is obviously unique.” This prompted Xavier Becerra, a Democrat who is attorney general of California, to tweak Zinke on Twitter: