Dems state Trump action on Florida drilling assisted by politics

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018|12:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON– Democrats from seaside states implicated the Trump administration of punishing states with Democratic leaders after the administration said it would obstruct oil drilling off Florida’s coast following objections from that state’s Republican governor.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California stated on Twitter that his state, “like Florida, has numerous miles of stunning coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way. Or is that insufficient for blue states?”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., stated Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was being hypocritical in claiming that “local voices matter” in his decision late Tuesday to block offshore drilling in Florida but not Virginia.

“If local voices matter why have not they omitted Virginia?” Kaine asked at a press conference Wednesday. “Is it since the guv of Florida is a Republican and the Virginia guv is a Democrat?”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said on Twitter that “the only science @SecretaryZinke follows is government. He’ll reverse course to safeguard fellow Republican politicians in Florida, but not to secure coastlines and jobs throughout the rest of the nation? Completely unacceptable.”

Heather Swift, a spokesperson for Zinke, implicated Kaine and other Democrats of taking inexpensive shots at her boss.

“The secretary has stated because day one that he has an interest in the regional voice. If those guvs wish to request meetings with the secretary, they are absolutely welcome to do so,” she stated. “Their criticism is empty pandering.”

As of Wednesday morning, just the Democratic guv of North Carolina and the Republican governor of South Carolina had actually asked for a meeting with Zinke on overseas drilling, Swift stated.

In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown took to Twitter to ask Zinke for relief. Connecting to Zinke tweet about Florida, Brown wrote: “Hey @secretaryzinke, how about doing the exact same for #Oregon?”

Zinke stated after a brief meeting with Scott at the Tallahassee airport Tuesday that drilling in Florida waters would be “off the table,” in spite of a plan that proposed drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.

The modification naturally– simply five days after Zinke revealed the offshore drilling strategy– highlights the political importance of Florida, where President Donald Trump directly won the state’s 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election and has actually motivated Scott to run for Senate.

The state is also crucial financially, with a multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunlight and miles and miles of white sandy beaches.

And Florida is where Trump has a winter home in Palm Beach. Trump spent his Christmas and New Year’s break at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Former White House ethics chief Walter Shaub stated Zinke’s choice to exempt Florida from the drilling plan seems a conflict of interest for Trump.

Trump is “excusing the state that is the home of the festering cankerous dispute of interest that the administration prefers to call the ‘Winter White Home’ and none of the other affected states,” Shaub tweeted.

Zinke stated Tuesday that “Florida is undoubtedly distinct” and that the decision to remove the state came after conferences and conversation with Scott, a Trump ally and a most likely candidate for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Bill Nelson.

Nelson called Scott’s meeting with Zinke “a political stunt” and said Scott has long wished to drill off Florida’s coast, despite his current opposition.

Zinke revealed strategies recently to greatly broaden offshore oil drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans, consisting of multiple locations where drilling is now blocked. The strategy was right away consulted with bipartisan opposition on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Democratic governors along both coasts unanimously oppose drilling, as act of Republican governors, consisting of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker.

The five-year plan revealed by Zinke would open 90 percent of the nation’s overseas reserves to development by personal business.

Market groups applauded the announcement, while environmental groups denounced the plan, saying it would impose “severe and inappropriate damage” to America’s oceans, coastal economies, public health and marine life.

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