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Zinke on offshore drilling flip: Florida's 'coastal currents' are different

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended his surprise decision to exempt Florida waters from the Trump administration's...

Posted: Jan 24, 2018 2:34 AM
Updated: Jan 24, 2018 2:34 AM

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended his surprise decision to exempt Florida waters from the Trump administration's push for new offshore drilling, saying in an interview with CNN that the state's coastline is unique.

"The coastal-currents are different, the layout of where the geology is," Zinke said.

Critics call his decision to exempt Florida favoritism to benefit GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

Officials from other states also voiced opposition to drilling off their shores

Critics have called his decision to exempt Florida's waters from the Trump administration's plan for new US offshore oil drilling political favoritism to benefit Republican Gov. Rick Scott. It came just days after the proposal for new drilling off most of the US coastline was announced.

"In the case of Florida, the governor asked first for an immediate meeting and every member on both sides of the aisle contacted my office, wrote letters on it. So Florida is unique. As well as every other state has theirs," Zinke said.

"Not every state has all the members against it and the geology is different, the currents are different and so looking at it, we're going to take the process, go through it, meet with every governor personally," he added.

Scott's opposition came as Zinke was still unveiling the plan in a conference call with reporters. Zinke and Scott subsequently met, and then Zinke announced he was "removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."

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

Many Republican and Democratic officials from other states also voiced opposition to drilling off their own shores. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, for example, said in response, "California is also 'unique.' "

"If that's your standard, we, too, should be removed from your list. Immediately," Becerra said.

The final product, Zinke said, will reflect "our energy needs as a country," as well as input from coastal communities.-"Let's make sure the states have a voice, let's make sure the people have a voice," he said.

"Our plan was to open up everything," he said.-"Take a look and show Americans what potential we have.-And then work with the governors, work with all the stakeholders, the House, the Senate and shape the plan."

The office responsible for analyzing the plan, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is still conducting its work.-Director Walter Cruickshank told lawmakers last week that Zinke has not asked him to remove Florida from the plan.

Another factor in his decision, Zinke noted, is an offshore drilling moratorium that bans drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico through 2022.

He has spoken with at least eight coastal governors and plans to meet with them and others in the coming months.

"I've had great conversations with the governors and I've committed to meet them personally, as I should as the secretary: Go to the coastline, meet with the fishermen, meet with all the stakeholders and make sure the state and local voice is heard."

The plan will take about a year to finalize, Zinke said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
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Forrest182056
Washington168942
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Scott100320
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Yazoo83312
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Wayne77421
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Smith40613
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Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
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Quitman2701
Carroll26111
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Perry2437
Amite2356
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Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
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Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
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Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
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Greene25211
Lamar2292
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