Coastal governors who oppose offshore drilling are pressing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for their own exemptions to the Trump administration's massive offshore drilling plan, after he said Tuesday night he would not allow drilling off the coast of Florida.
"New York doesn't want drilling off our coast either," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a Twitter post Tuesday night. "Where do we sign up for a waiver?"
Other governors who oppose offshore drilling on their coasts include the leaders of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Washington. While Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, supports drilling, both of the state’s senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, oppose it.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, said Wednesday he will ask Zinke for an exemption as well. "We cannot afford to take a chance with the beauty, the majesty and the economic value and vitality of our wonderful coastline," he said.
"California is also 'unique' & our 'coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.' Our 'local and state voice' is firmly opposed to any and all offshore drilling," said Xavier Becerra, California's Democratic attorney general, in a Twitter post Tuesday night. "If that's your standard, we, too, should be removed from your list. Immediately."
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, said Zinke is “hypocritical” for exempting Florida’s shores from drilling while continuing with plans to drill in other federal waters.
“Maryland's coast and the Chesapeake Bay are national treasures,” Frosh tweeted Tuesday night. “Putting them at risk is foolish, unfair and hypocritical.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has said he is “not in favor of offshore drilling.”
Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, on Wednesday morning said he would request a meeting with Zinke to discuss “the risks that offshore drilling pose to the state's natural resources and our tourism economy.”
California Rep. Ted Lieu argued Zinke’s decision to exempt Florida from drilling is illegal.
Lieu said the move could violate the Administrative Procedures Act prohibition against “arbitrary and capricious” policy making.
“Taking Florida off the table for offshore drilling but not California violates the legal standard of arbitrary and capricious agency action,” Lieu, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter. “I believe courts will strike this down.”
Zinke said Tuesday night he won't allow oil and natural gas drilling off the Florida coast, after meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott and almost the entire Florida congressional delegation opposed Zinke's drilling proposal, arguing risks of spills could harm the state's tourism economy.
"I support the governor's position that Florida is unique, and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver,” Zinke said after meeting with Scott, a Republican expected to run for Senate this year. “As a result of a discussion with Gov. Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."
An Interior Department representative later clarified that Zinke is removing the entire eastern Gulf of Mexico from drilling consideration.
The energy industry had been excited about drilling opportunities in the eastern Gulf, more so than any other area proposed.
The government has a moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf until June 30, 2022, imposed partly because the Pentagon worries oil development would interfere with military testing and training in the area.
But the Trump administration announced last week it plans to open almost all federal waters to oil and gas drilling, including in the eastern Gulf.
Under the Interior Department's draft proposal for offshore drilling, spanning 2019 to 2024, more than 90 percent of the total acres on the Outer Continental Shelf would be made available for leasing. It proposes 47 potential offshore lease sales, the most ever over a five-year period, including 19 sales off the Alaska coast, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, nine in the Atlantic Ocean and seven in the Pacific.
Zinke has emphasized his offshore drilling proposal is not final and is subject to a 60-day public comment period, during which he said he would consult with state leaders and other stakeholders.