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US east coast states clamour for Florida-style exemption from offshore drilling expansion

US east coast states clamour for Florida-style exemption from offshore drilling expansion

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States all along the US east coast on Wednesday were pressing the Trump administration for exemptions from a planned bonanza of offshore oil-drilling after it was announced that Florida would be getting a waiver, according to Reuters.

Last week the Department of the Interior announced a plan to unleash a torrent of oil and gas leases off all the country’s coastlines in the next five years.

It is part of a strategy aimed at fulfilling President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to boost US energy independence and to cut through restrictive regulations hampering business.

In Tuesday’s announcement about Florida, DOI secretary Ryan Zinke said that exceptions would be made for the Sunshine State following a meeting he had in Tallahassee with Florida governor Rick Scott.

Zinke accepted the governor’s contention that drilling posed a potential threat to vital coastal tourism on his state’s Atlantic and Gulf shores.

But that has opened a Pandora’s Box of similar claims from other states’ governors, each saying vital tourism interests could be jeopardized by increased drilling.

Opposition to increased offshore exploration crossed party lines with state governors of both Republican and Democratic stripe going on the record long before the planned expansion.

And on Wednesday, Governor John Carney of Delaware, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina – all three Democrats – issued Tweets making their states’ cases. Republican Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina, chimed in with a public statement calling for a meeting with Zinke.

Also on Wednesday, Zinke said he would be available to meet with all governors of states affected by the expanded drilling proposal.

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Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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