The chorus of US politicians calling for their states’ exclusion from offshore drilling plans expanded on Thursday, according to Reuters and the Associated Press.
Members of the US Senate were the ones chiming in this time, following Wednesday’s volley of comments from east coast state governors.
These politicians are all demanding equal treatment to Florida, which on Tuesday was granted exemption from the expanded offshore drilling plan announced last week by the Department of the Interior (DOI).
Ryan Zinke, the DOI Secretary, gave Florida its waiver after meeting with that state’s governor Rick Scott, who said expanded drilling could jeopardise the state’s tourism industry.
That opened the door to a wave of similar claims from other coastal states.
A total of 22 senators from 12 states signed a letter claiming their states, too, had “vibrant coastal economies” that could be put at risk by the increased drilling promoted by DOI for the next five years.
The letter’s signatories were not only from east coast states but included Pacific ones, too.
One of those, Washington state senator Maria Cantwell, suggested separately that Zinke’s decision could be in violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act as it appears to have put political favouritism ahead of proper process.
Meanwhile energy industry spokespeople objected to the exemption on the grounds of it happening at all, with the American Petroleum Institute (API), saying Zinke’s Florida exemption was “premature” and could cost “hundreds of thousands of jobs” in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.