Zinke Abruptly Changes Course on Florida Offshore Drilling

He now says it's 'off the table'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2018 12:20 AM CST
Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks in the House chambers on the opening day of the legislative session on Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla.   (Hali Tauxe/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)
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(Newser) – The Trump administration said Tuesday it wouldn't allow oil drilling off the coast of Florida, abruptly reversing course under pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said after a brief meeting with Scott in Tallahassee that drilling will be "off the table" when it comes to waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida. The U-turn just five days after Zinke announced the offshore drilling plan highlights the political importance of Florida, where President Trump narrowly won the state's 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election, the AP reports. Zinke said Tuesday that "Florida is obviously unique" and that the decision to remove the state came after meetings and discussion with Scott.

Zinke announced plans last week to greatly expand offshore oil drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic and Pacific oceans, including several possible drilling operations off Florida, where drilling is now blocked. Scott, who's expected to run for the Senate later this year, came out against the Trump administration plan when it was first announced, saying his top priority is to ensure that Florida's natural resources are protected. When asked what caused the administration to change its position on Florida drilling, Zinke said bluntly, "The governor." Scott said he was pleased at the administration's change of heart. "It's a good day for Florida," he said, adding, "I think it's very important to continue our efforts to take care of our environment."


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