In a surprise move on Tuesday, the US administration of President Donald Trump declared that the state of Florida would be exempt from the recently announced plans to open up the US coasts to offshore drilling for oil, according to the Associated Press.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), explained the decision as the administration’s response to a request from Florida’s governor Rick Scott.
Last week DOI had laid out the energy-industry friendly plan to loosen regulations and make it easier to get leases for oil and gas drilling off all the nation’s significant coasts – Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida has long Atlantic and Gulf cpastlines.
That move was a strong overturning of restrictions introduced by previous President, Barack Obama.
However, now Governor Scott has earned a pass for the Sunshine State on the grounds that unfettered drilling posed a potential threat to the tourism that is a big earner for Florida. Scott made his appeal directly to Zinke when the two men met in the state capital Tallahassee on Tuesday.
Zinke seemed to indicate that Florida was a special case, saying: “Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”
The governors (both Republican and Democrat) of every state along the eastern seaboard have registered similar opposition to the planned drilling expansion, as have dozens of local government bodies in coastal communities, but there is no exemption for them as yet.